San Francisco 49ers: Is Cornellius Carradine The Steal Of The Draft?


September 29, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive end Cornellius Carradine (91) against the South Florida Bulls during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

With the 40th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers selected Cornellius Carradine out of Florida State University. Carradine was seen as an explosive defensive end prospect as the 2012 college football season progressed, but he then tore his ACL in the final game of the regular season against the University of Florida Gators. Following the injury, Carradine saw his draft stock drop due to the severity and timing of the injury, as teams felt he would most likely be unable to play during next season.

On April 20th, Carradine worked out for teams at Florida State’s pro-day and posted an impressive 40-yard dash time by taking 4.75 seconds, just 135 days after undergoing knee surgery. His strong workout forced coaches to go back and take another look at his tape with his stock likely to be back on the rise.

Looking at his game film and scouting, it was easy to see why Carradine’s draft stock was steadily climbing after his workout showed that he might be closer to returning than teams had originally thought. Carradine has great size and length at six feet, four inches tall and 34 ¾ inch arms. He flashes exceptional explosion off of the snap and exceptional lateral agility with very good footwork. He shows heavy, active hands with the ability to fight off the initial block. He has a non-stop motor and will hustle sideline-to-sideline until the whistle.

Carradine has few negatives to his game, as he possesses a lot of skills that coaches covet at the defensive end position. His main flaw is his lack of experience against high level competition. Carradine played at a junior college during the first two seasons of his collegiate career before transferring to Florida State prior to his Junior season. He was mainly a reserve player in his first season as a Seminole, as he sat behind future all-Americans Bjoern Werner and Brandon Jenkins. He was in line for a similar role in his senior season, if not for an early injury to Jenkins. One reason for Carradine sitting on the bench in his junior season was his snap recognition, which will need to improve at the next level, as he can come off the snap slowly at times.

Carradine’s production at the collegiate level left NFL scouts drooling at his potential to create havoc in the backfield. Carradine originally committed to the University of Illinois coming out of high school, but academic issues caused him to go the junior college route to Butler Community College. He was a dominant force at that level. He accumulated 26 sacks during his two seasons at Butler, including a nation-leading 16-sack season in his final year on a team that lost the national title game. Carradine was the number one overall junior college prospect following that season. He signed with Florida State prior to his junior year.

His production did not diminish during his time with the Seminoles. He saw limited action during his initial season, as he was put into a reserve role. He was able to put up impressive numbers in a backup role with 38 total tackles, 8 tackles for a loss, and 5.5 sacks. He was able to get his chance to start the following year after Jenkins was injured for the year and he did not disappoint with a season that many scouts said was more impressive than the future first rounder Werner. Carradine recorded 80 total tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, and 11 sacks in 12 games. Scouts saw Carradine as a dynamic pass rusher, prior to the injury, and many had him projected as a possible first round rounder.

Heading into the draft, many pundits felt the Niners could use depth along the defensive line and more pass rushers. In the first round, the Niners moved up to the middle of the round and many people thought Carradine could have been one of the players considered with the pick. Carradine managed to fall through the first round, despite a number of teams in the late first round needing pass rush help. With the 10th pick in the second round, the Niners pulled the trigger on the defensive end to try and solve both of their needs. Jed York tweeted out this gem following the selection of Carradine:

Coach Jim Tomsula was on hand to personally watch Carradine during his pro-day. Tomsula is considered one of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL and to see his apparent excitement at the selection of Carradine shows that he thought very highly of this kid after watching him work out.

The Niners had an excellent draft, as they got great value with almost every selection they made during the three days. Carradine was considered a mid-first round talent heading into the draft and the Niners were able to get him after trading down further in the early second round. Depending on his health, Carradine could become an absolute terror along the Niners’ defensive line with his versatility to line up all over the front to cause pressure from anywhere. Tomsula can turn this pick into one of the steals in this draft by tapping into Carradine’s immense potential.