Position: Outside Linebacker
School: North Carolina
Weight: 241 lbs.
Arms: 32 5/8″
Hands: 9 1/4″
Carter is an excellent athlete, but he tore his ACL in November and has a long road to recovery. He is an explosive athlete that takes proper angles in run support and has excellent speed to make plays from sideline-to-sideline. He is a very fluid, transitions with ease and is very effective dropping into coverage. He struggles to disengage from bigger blockers in and must add more bulk to become stouter against the run. If Carter recovers fully from his injury, he has the athleticism to develop into a very productive weak side linebacker and may still be an early Day 2 pick.
The NFL.com profile cuts right to the main concern regarding Bruce Carter: his ACL injury. This injury is the reason that Carter enters the discussion for the Lions second or third round pick rather than their first round pick. Even so, Bruce Carter ranks among the top five 4-3 outside linebackers in this draft according to many scouting services.
Outside linebackers fit for rushing the passer out of a 3-4 alignment garner the most attention at the top of the draft but the Lions expect a more well-rounded game from their linebackers whether they play inside or outside. This was revealed in a quote from Jim Schwartz when speaking of starting middle linebacker DeAndre Levy:
Part of our criteria for linebackers is that we like multidimensional players and that means the ability to play inside and outside and play pass and run.
This is where Carter seems to be a great fit for the Lions. He was a sideline to sideline player in college and able to track down ball carriers from anywhere on the field. He also had the ability to cover the occasional slot receiver and drop into zone coverage. The highlight videos below show the various ways that Carter was used at North Carolina.
The National Football Post and ESPN scouting reports agree that Bruce Carter doesn’t yet play with great instinct and relies on more of a read-and-react type game. NFP softens this critic by saying that he “puts himself in position to make plays on the ball” and ESPN notes that he is disciplined and assignment strong. The Lions will look favorably upon this.
The important thing to remember is that the evaluations are mostly dependent on Bruce Carter returning to full health. Pre-draft visits give teams the ability to get updated medical information on prospects. The Lions hosted Carter on March 16 and probably have already decided how comfortable they would be with him. We’ll know that the medical information they received was good if they end up taking him in the second or third round.