Summary: After Florida State standout defensive end Brandon Jenkins went out for the season with a foot injury in early September, many Seminole fans felt their National Championship hopes were dashed. While Florida State didn't compete for the title, it wasn't because Jenkins went out of the lineup. Senior backup defensive end Cornelius "Tank" Carradine took over and broke out as one of the top pass-rushers in the nation.
Carradine quickly showed his speed rush ability around the corner. He had six sacks in the month of September, as he took advantage of teams sending double teams to Bjoern Werner. Throughout the season, Carradine stayed consistent with his pass rush and totaled 80 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, 11 sacks and a forced fumble.
The season ended terribly for Carradine, unfortunately. He was dominated by Florida left tackle Xavier Nixon as the Gators had a ton of success running straight at him. It looked like Carradine was on roller skates the way Nixon was pushing him around the field. Then, late in the game, Carradine blew out an ACL, so he wasn't able to participate in the Senior Bowl or the NFL Scouting Combine.
There have been a lot of positive reports about Carradine's rehab, stating that he is far ahead of schedule. He has a workout scheduled April 20 to show teams how far along he is.
Carradine is much bigger than Jenkins, while being faster and more explosive than Werner. Considering he could have the best overall skill set among the three ends, it makes one wonder why he was unable to win a starting spot heading into his senior season. Neither Werner nor Jenkins had a double-digit sack season in 2011, so it isn't like they were coming off huge campaigns. In speaking with some scouts, they don't sound overly concerned about that, but they do find it a little bit peculiar.
Entering the NFL, Carradine has a superb skill set to be an impact pass-rusher. He is very fast off the edge with a nice repertoire of moves. He has good hands to shed blocks and uses his explosiveness to crash into the pocket. He could rush from left end, right end or standup as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He has a rare combination of size and strength.
As mentioned, Carradine needs work as a run-defender. He gets too high in his pad level, and quality offensive linemen are able to move him around. Carradine does better when he tries to get upfield and bust into the backfield. When he tries to hold his ground at the point of attack, he can get ridden around the field. He definitely needs to improve his run defense and ability to be stout when runs come straight at him.
Early in his career, Carradine may best used as a rotational player who mainly plays in passing situations. That would allow him time to improve his run defense while getting acclimated to NFL offensive tackles.
Carradine has a great set of physical tools to develop into an impact pass rusher in the NFL. If it weren't for the knee injury, he would be a solid first-round pick. He still could go in Round 1, but he's a borderline first-day prospect. If he falls to Round 2, however, he shouldn't last long.
Player Comparison: Osi Umenyiora. Carradine is bigger than Umenyiora, but they have similar styles of play. Umenyiora was a second-round pick of the Giants in 2003. Carradine is one the edge of the first and second round for the 2013 NFL Draft. During a quality career, Umenyiora has been a very good pass-rusher, but not the best run defender. Entering the NFL, that is the description of Carradine's game.
NFL Matches: Indianapolis, Denver, Atlanta, San Francisco, Detroit, Buffalo, Miami
There are a lot of potential landing spots for Carradine late in the first round and early in Round 2. The Colts could consider a young edge rusher, and Carradine would be a nice fit in Chuck Pagano's defense.
The Broncos could easily use their first-round pick on Carradine. Denver has to replace Elvis Dumervil, and Carradine would be a natural fit. He has the size for their 4-3 system and is similar to other ends that Jack Del Rio and John Fox have targeted in the past.
The Falcons have to find a long-term replacement for John Abraham. Carradine could be the best player available that makes sense for Atlanta when the Falcons are on the clock. It wouldn't surprise anyone if Carradine lands with the Falcons.
At times the 49ers had issues pressuring the quarterback in 2012. They could add Carradine to give them another pass-rusher to rotate in the game. San Francisco could select him with pick 31 or 34.
If the Lions pass on Ziggy Ansah, Carradine would make a lot of sense as a pick for Detroit early in Round 2. They need to bring in talent at defensive end after losing Cliff Avril. Carradine's speed rush would be a nice complement to Ndamukong Suh and he could be a good replacement for Avril.
The Dolphins could use another pass-rusher to pair with Cameron Wake, and the Bills could use a rusher to go with Mario Williams. If Carradine falls into the second round, he probably won't get past Buffalo or Miami.