Cornellius Carradine | Defensive End | Florida State | 6'4, 276 pounds
Bjoern Werner and Brandon Jenkins came into the season attracting most of the attention on Florida State's defensive line, and for good reason. Both were considered possible first round picks and key cogs to the Seminoles' pass rush. But that didn't stop Cornellius Carradine from forcing his way onto the field. Within a few weeks, it was evident that Carradine was Florida State's best pass rusher, and it wasn't really close.
Unfortunately, Carradine suffered a torn ACL in November, ending his season and sending the senior's draft stock back into flux. Without the injury, we may be talking about him as a surefire top five pick in this year's NFL Draft. With 11 sacks this season, he put himself on the map game in and game out. Despite blowing out his knee in November, Carradine said at the NFL Combine that he would be able to run through a full workout for scouts before April's draft. If he's able to do so and shows anywhere near the burst and change of direction skills he had this season, Carradine will be drafted in the top half of the first round.
Carradine has everything you look for in a prototypical 4-3 defensive end. He's built like a tank, as his nickname suggests. The way he moves at that size is more impressive, though. Carradine has as much burst and get-off as any edge rusher in this class and is refined in his pass rushing technique. He uses his length well, consistently playing with outstanding leverage to hold the point of attack or generate pressure on the quarterback. Adding to his ability as an edge rusher, Carradine shows off enough flexibility to bend around the edge and get underneath tackles.
While Carradine's burst and bend are two of his biggest assets, his favorite move is a swim move to the outside, which he used with great success as a senior. He attacks the outside shoulder efficiently and uses his hands effectively to keep blockers off him when rushing the passer. In addition to using his hands well in his swim move, Carradine shows a strong punch off the ball and the power to bull rush.
As a run defender, Carradine grades out very well. His best quality in this aspect of his game is his motor. With 80 tackles this season, Carradine showed that he never gives up on the play and has the speed to chase down ball carriers sideline to sideline. Carradine also has the change of direction skills to make plays on the ball in space. When Carradine gets his hands on a ball carrier, he rarely misses a tackle and hits with a ton of power.
The biggest con to Carradine at this point is the torn ACL he suffered in late November. That puts his status for training camp up in the air and may prevent him from working out for scouts before the NFL Draft. However, at the NFL Combine, he said he will be able to perform a workout, so we'll see.
Some question Carradine's motor, but I think they may be confusing a lack of stamina for a lack of motor. He would fade late in games at times, at that was probably due to his lack of experience. In terms of tangible aspects of Carradine's game, he tends to get a bit upright at times. He can play with a solid pad level but needs to do so more consistently. This may tie back into his conditioning. As he gets better in that aspect, he should be able to keep his pad level down throughout the course of a game.
Without the injury, Carradine is the draft's most complete pass rusher. He fits best as a 4-3 defensive end because of his balance as a player and the success he has had as an edge rusher in his career. That being said, he could potentially play 3-4 outside linebacker, though that may not be the best use of his skills. He has the ability to stand up and play in space, though. If he is able to work out for scouts before the draft, he should come off the board in the first half of the first round. Longterm, he may develop into the draft's best pass rusher.
Pro Comparison: Jason Pierre Paul, New York Giants
Carradine may not have quite the movement skills that Jason Pierre-Paul does (few do, though), but he has the upside to develop into the same type of threat off the edge. Given the blend of speed and strength these two show, the comparison seems to fit. In addition, Carradine's game is a bit unrefined and he is considered a risky pick. People said the same thing about Pierre-Paul.