Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 4/14/13
Going into the season, the expectation was that Florida State would have one of the best sets of defensive ends in the country with Bjoern Werner and Brandon Jenkins. Jenkins went down to a season ending injury that would end his Florida State career and Cornellius ‘Tank’ Carradine had an opportunity to step in and become the starter. Carradine took full advantage and turned out to have every bit the impact Jenkins was supposed to have and then some with 47 solo tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, and 9 hurries, setting himself apart as one of the most dominant defensive ends in the country. Unfortunately, Carradine suffered a torn ACL in the regular season finale against Florida at the very end of the game, which momentarily stopped his ascent. Had it not been for the injury, Carradine would have been the best pure 4-3 defensive end prospect in the draft and a surefire top ten pick, but Carradine’s recovery from the ACL has been as remarkable as his season. The injury was suffered in early December and he is currently planning to have a full workout before the draft in April, barely four months after the injury. It is not clear if he will be able to contribute fully in camp and everything else after the draft, which will have an impact on his draft status. He has top ten talent and the determinations of teams and their medical staffs will determine when they will be willing to make the move to grab him and if he will be ready to start the season or if he will require some time on the Physically Unable to Perform list that could have him go anywhere after the top ten of the draft to the top of the second round of the draft, but the trends suggest that unless he suffers a setback with his health, he will go in round one and the question is just how high.Carradine measured 6-foot-4 271lbs at the combine.  He is incredibly strong as illustrated by his 28 reps on the bench at the combine, but it looks more impressive watching him create explosive power in a small area. Carradine has long arms and long length overall that makes him tough for offensive tackles to get their hands on him cleanly. Carradine is stiff in his hips, but shows impressive quickness in the direction his hips are facing. His speed is more than adequate for someone his size and he flashes impressive acceleration from time to time that catches opponents by surprise. Carradine’s physical potential is mostly determined by whether or not he can improve his fluidity going forward, because he is already incredibly strong and he is unlikely to get too much faster, but nevertheless, he has a broad frame with room to add muscle, so he could get even stronger.Carradine is impressive against the running game. He is stout at the point of attack and rarely gives any ground to the opponent. Rather, he is more likely to collapse the pocket and reduce the area the opposing running back has to work and he is a linebacker’s best friend in allowing predictable, direct paths to the ball carrier.  He can also stack and shed blockers and create plays for himself.  This enables Carradine to play the run while still putting himself in excellent position to rush the passer on running downs or facing play action.As a pass rusher, Carradine takes advantage of physical gifts by playing with good technique and is a player who seems to be figuring things out as the game develops. For the most part, Carradine has an average first step and sort of rolls out of his stance, but he will flash an above average first step that seems to put his opponent at an immediate disadvantage. He attacks up the field first and then makes the determination of how to approach the blocker. Carradine will go inside, outside, or right at him. He has incredible hands; both quick and heavy. Carradine does a fantastic job of hand fighting and manipulating blockers so that he is never completely out of a play and has a slippery feel to him.His bull rush is impressive both because he is so strong and he uses great leverage making him that much more difficult to stop. In addition, often times, Carradine is using his bull rush to set up a counter move to simply get rid of the blocker and make the play. For example, there are times when he will come from the outside and bull rush the offensive tackle and pin him inside into the rest of the line and he is parallel to the line of scrimmage. This makes it so he has both lanes open to attack the run if it is there or get to the pass. In either case, the offensive tackle is at a distinct disadvantage. He is able to rip and swim really well and can slip blocks and get skinny which is impressive to see for someone his size. With such an impressive array of pass rush moves, he can keep his opponents off balance which makes them that much more effective. He is willing to go inside but he wants to do it so he can slip behind the guard on his way to the quarterback.Carradine’s size, ability as a pass rusher and potential to be an impact player is reminiscent of former Detroit Lion Robert Porcher. Porcher was a first round pick out of South Carolina State and it took him awhile, but he evolved into a great defensive end and a three time all pro, was able to have five seasons with double digit sacks and finished his career with 95.5. Short of getting healthy, it should not take Carradine as long to acclimate to the NFL, but that is the type of talent and the level of polish he brings to the team that picks him right out of the gate. While there is a certain amount of adjusting Carradine will need to do, his skills look like they should translate extremely well at the next level. Like Porcher, Carradine is not an extremely flashy player, but just a great football player who seems to have a major impact on games and his good plays pile up throughout the season.Carradine’s stock seems to be going up by the day as news from his camp continues to be good and there is increased enthusiasm about him being able to do a full workout in April 20 before the draft. Pending the medical and teams have their own doctors investigate the short term and long term impact of the ACL injury, his ceiling could be the in the top ten picks. Given their current situations, Jacksonville at two and Oakland at three should take a hard look at Carradine even if he needs time on the PUP list. In a draft where the top ten is going to have an unprecedented amount of players taken based on where they project to be in the NFL as opposed to what they can do now makes a player like Carradine who is ready to go now more attractive. The Raiders and Jaguars are teams that are not going anywhere fast and if he was completely healthy, this is likely where he would be going and the time he will need off will likely be a blip on the radar in the grand scheme of his career as he is ready to contribute immediately as soon as he is healthy. And if he is closer to ready to go and those teams pass on him, every 4-3 team that has a spot he can play should be seriously considering him because he can dominate against the pass and the run. It seems difficult to believe that a talent like Carradine could fall that far even if teams have to wait for him a year as he projects to be the best pure defensive end prospect in the draft. 
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