04/30/2012 - A closer look at the Bills' picks: Round 5/147 - Tank Carder, ILB, 6-3, 237, Texas Christian...Colorful, tough athlete, very instinctive, stock rose with good workouts. Depth candidate who can play every linebacker spot. - The Sports Xchange
Millions of people saw Ricky "Tank" Carder (receiving the nickname fcrom his parents due to his size at birth) earn the 2011 Rose Bowl MVP in the team's win over Wisconsin (three tackles for loss, game-winning pass break-up), but few know the road he took to achieve that success. In the seventh grade, Carder suffered a broken back and punctured lung/diaphragm in a rollover car accident. He was his high school's kicker and punter to avoid contact until his junior year, when he got the medical go-head to play any position; opposing coaches have been paying ever since.
The lightly-recruited Carder earned some playing time (nine tackles, one for loss in 11 games) behind future NFLers Jason Phillips and Daryl Washington as a redshirt freshman, then earned second-team All-Mountain West accolades after stepping into Phillips' starting role in the middle in 2009 (89 tackles, 10 for loss, 10 pass break-ups). As a junior, he was named first-team all-conference (60 tackles, 9.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks, five pass break-ups), All-American by multiple outlets,.
TCU's aggressive 4-2-5 scheme asks Carder to attack gaps, taking himself out of plays, but his ability to close on the ballcarrier and make plays in coverage should earn him an early-round selection as a 4-3 strong-side linebacker or inside 'backer for a 3-4 team at the next level. The only bump in the road would be NFL teams' concerns about those injuries suffered years ago, and their potential to derail his career with the car crash-type collisons that happen every play in the NFL.
Positives: Heady player who always seems to be at the right place at the right time. Attacks ball carriers in a hurry if a lane opens up in front of him. Regularly flows to the ball using the correct attack angle. Dips shoulder or attacks blockers directly when filling gaps. Can anchor to maintain the line of scrimmage. Identifies and avoids pulling guards and fights off multiple blockers in traffic using lateral quickness and strong hands to find his way to the ball carrier. Will hurdle trash on the ground to get into the backfield. Underrated athlete capable of covering running backs out of the backfield. Regularly breaks up passes. Possesses the length and aggressive nature to be a solid tackler. Strikes ball carriers with reckless abandon. Good closing speed and strong hands to be effective as a blitzer.
Weaknesses: Loses the ball and overruns plays at times, sometimes because he is attacking his assigned gap and other times because he is asked to be so aggressive. Lacks great upper-body bulk to keep from being engulfed by NFL-caliber linemen. Fair in dropping into his zone, but could be a bit more fluid moving backwards. Has only adequate upper-body strength to corral stronger ball carriers in the open field. Lacks pass-rush moves.