Falcons Draft Preview: Cornellius Carradine, Pass-Rushing Tank

Tank ain't playing, y'all - Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

His nickname is "Tank," you guys...

In addition to a cornerback, the Falcons also need to add talent at defensive end even with the offseason acquisition of Osi Umenyiora.

There are a number of quality first-round prospects available, of course, but there could be slim pickings assuming the Falcons sit tight at No. 30 overall.

One of the more intriguing guys who could still be there, however, is an ACC pass rusher named Cornellius Carradine, AKA "Tank." For those of you unfamiliar with Carradine, that nickname should tell you something.

But I know most of you Falcoholics are quite familiar with one of our main draft crushes.

Position: Defensive End
School: Florida State
Projection: 1st round
Measurables: 6'4, 276 lbs.
40-yd Dash: 4.75 sec (unofficial)
Bench Press: 28 reps
NFL Comparison: Justin Tuck

Stats (senior): 80 tackles (47 solo), 13.0 TFL, 11.0 sacks, 9 QB hurries, 1 FF

Why He'll Work:

The thing about Carradine that immediately jumps out at you is his closing speed.

He's got the size you look for in a pro D-end, and the quickness to make himself a real hassle for opposing tackles. He's got a great swim move that lets him get around the edge quickly, along with some of the more exceptional bull-rushing success I've seen this year. His raw strength is quite impressive.

For a player that joined the Seminoles out of JUCO, Carradine has pretty solid pass-rushing technique. Combine that with his raw athleticism, and you have a tantalizing prospect. As a run defender, he's about as consistent of a tackler as they come, and again that brute strength really comes into play here.

Most of all, however, it is Carradine's motor and discipline that draws my attention. He's a guy teams could certainly use as a three-down stalwart, and a player who could make an impact very early in his career assuming he's healthy.

His absolutely stellar production at the college level (11.0 sacks last year, 5.5 as a part-time contributor two years ago) makes me confident that we have a talented player on our hands.

Why He Won't Work:

Carradine tore his ACL last Novemeber, ending an otherwise fantastic season prematurely. Some speculate that had this not happened, Carradine could be a top-five consideration right now. If that injury lingers, there's the risk that his contributions as a rookie may not be what we would expect of a first-round pick.

There are some questions about his stamina. His push would sometimes slip in the second half of games, possibly due to his lack of starting experience in college. His technique, like most players he took the JUCO route, is not exactly optimal, and he could stand to diversify his pass-rushing moves.

Mostly though, it's that ACL injury and how teams view his recovery so far. If it checks out, Carradine will certainly be a first-round pick. If it doesn't, he could fall to Atlanta at No. 30 overall.

Conclusion:

I would have no regrets if the Falcons drafted Carradine in the first. He's got the run game down pat, and he has all the pass-rushing potential you'd want to see out of a top DE prospect.

At the same time, his injury is worrying. Some defensive lineman - think Da'Quan Bowers down in Tampa - have fallen in the draft due to knee injury and disappointed in the pros (Bowers has 4.5 sacks in two seasons). So there's an inherent risk with Carradine. In a perfect world, I'd want a guy like Desmond Trufant.

But what player is truly without risk? Carradine should make a fine defensive end in the NFL, and the Falcons could put him to good use.

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