Injury impact: Bruce Carter may fall far in the draft

CHAPEL HILL NC - NOVEMBER 13: Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Virginia Tech Hokies is tackled by Bruce Carter #54 and teammate Jared McAdoo #97 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Kenan Stadium on November 13 2010 in Chapel Hill North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

It was supposed to be Bruce Carter's year. The North Carolina senior linebacker was poised to be a first-round pick. Now, he may be lucky to a second-round pick.

Carter wasn't among the suspended Tar Heels at the beginning of the season. However, he only finished the year with 57 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. But that's not why Carter could be a draft dropper.

On Nov. 20, Carter tore his ACL against North Carolina State and has successfully undergone surgery. It's likely he'll be unable to participate in Senior Bowl activities or North Carolina's pro day.

In my latest rankings update, Carter is 50th overall. He's dropped because the knee injury could have a big affect on his play. He's now behind pass rushing linebackers like Justin Houston and Von Miller.

That is because Carter's potential is based on his quickness and speed off the snap. That's what is noted in our scouting report. Even last season we saw the impact a knee injury can have on a pass rusher.

Entering last season, Wisconsin's O'Brien Schofield had the look of a possible top 50 pick. He had 12 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss in 2009 and was set to be a star at the Senior Bowl. Then, during practices, he tore his left ACL just like Carter.

The injury ended up knocking Schofield out for nine months. Schofield is expected to get his first start against Dallas on Saturday, but the injury pushed him to the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

The draft weekend plummet, unfortunately, may be similar for Carter. He's more of a complete player than Schofield, so he should go before the fourth round. But teams will have to do a lot of work on Carter and monitor his progress.

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