Found July 28, 2013 on Football and Futbol:
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 Size, durability, and speed are a few qualities that define a good defensive end in the NFL.  The 49ers’ starting defensive ends Justin Smith and Ray McDonald excel in these areas.  McDonald is signed with the Niners through 2016 so he shouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon.  However, as dominant Justin Smith has been, he will not play forever at that position.  Eventually Smith will retire and the Niners will need someone to replace the team’s leader at defensive end.  With the future in mind, in the 2013 NFL draft the Niners selected defensive end Cornellius “Tank” Carradine from Florida State.  Carradine offers good size and speed but a big question mark regarding his durability. Size is an important attribute for a defensive end that is typically one of the largest players on the defense.  Carradine’s size, at 6’4”, 276 pounds, gives him a tremendous advantage when challenging opposing players.  His height and weight allow him to bowl over other players to get pressure on the quarterback.  He also effectively uses his height and weight to make essential tackles on the field that often causes the opposing team to lose yardage. In 2011 at Florida State, he had 38 tackles and 5.5 sacks behind Bjoern Werner.  In the following year, Carradine had 80 combined tackles, including 13 for a loss, and 11 sacks.  This statistic is even more impressive considering it was his first full year starting at defensive end for the Seminoles after replacing starter Brandon Jenkins due to injury. In two years at Florida State, Carradine displayed how effectively he can use his physical attributes to his advantage. Another key asset for a defensive end in the NFL is his durability.  Whether a defensive lineman can withstand the beating he takes on the field and deliver the necessary tackles is very important.  Sometimes players are called upon to play through injuries or recover from an injury in order to get back on the field.  Tank Carradine joins the 49ers as he recovers from a torn ACL that he suffered during his last season at Florida State.  After incurring this devastating injury, Carradine’s once solid future as a professional athlete initially looked bleak.  While some players are able to come back from ACL injuries like Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson did in 2012, many players are unable to return to their physical form.  However, four months after his surgery Carradine was doing well enough in order to perform at the NFL combine.  Teams gained more confidence in Carradine after that, resulting in the 49ers drafting him in the second round of the 2013 draft.  But the question remains, how well can he come back from this injury?  Adrian Peterson returned to the game in better shape than he was before his injury.  How will Carradine perform?  Fortunately he has time, along with good doctors like Peterson’s physical therapist, to figure that out, as San Francisco does not need him to start immediately. After Carradine’s performance at the NFL combine in 2013, he demonstrated that his injury has not hindered his quickness, which is another essential quality for a defensive end to possess.  At the NFL combine in 2013, Carradine ran a 4.75-second time in the 40-yard dash.  This performance highlights not only his speed but also Carradine’s drive to get healthy and to prove that he can contribute in the NFL.   Although in the real world it is rare for big men to move quickly and with agility, defensive linemen in the NFL must do so in order to excel at the position and Carradine is no exception. Strength goes hand in hand with speed, durability, and size as essential characteristics for defensive linemen. On game film, Carradine displays good strength competing against offensive linemen, often getting past them to pressure or sack the quarterback.  This athlete is not only strong physically but also mentally.  Despite a poor academic record in high school that made him ineligible for four-year collegiate athletic programs, Carradine did not give up.  He enrolled in a community college program in order to improve his grades and eventually transferred to Florida State thanks to his determination.  Carradine worked hard to improve himself on an academic level so he could compete among his peers on an athletic level. Carradine’s impressive determination may help him succeed in the NFL if he is able to fully recover from his injury.  Some observers have compared him to both Aldon Smith and Justin Tuck, two players who have dominated at their positions on defense.  However, Carradine brings some question marks along with his obvious athletic skill set.  He played just two seasons at Florida State with only one season as a starter.  Does that give Carradine enough experience to shine in the NFL?  Will his body allow him to do so?  Only time will tell.  One certainty is his mental toughness.  Military tanks are tough, often brutal machines that roll over any obstacles in their path.  This Tank has shown he can and will overcome serious obstacles in his own path to success.  He overcame adversity to make it to Florida State.  He is determined to do the same to make it in the NFL.
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