The 2006 National Football League Draft has a variety of prospects at the linebacker position, especially in the early rounds. One of the biggest wildcards is Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter. One thing working against Carpenter right now is the depth at the linebacker position. There are five players at this position that have graded out to be a first-round pick. This year's crop is incredibly deep. In comparison, over the last five years, there has been an average of two linebackers selected in the first round. The most taken in Round 1 during this span was three in 2004.
Carpenter had his bowl season cut short when he broke his fibula late in the season versus Michigan. This injury caused him to miss the Fiesta Bowl and the Senior Bowl. It also may have limited him in his workouts for NFL teams thus far.
Carpenter established himself as one of the NCAA's premier linebacker in 2005. He had only been starter for two seasons at Ohio State but did get on the field in all four of his years there, even as a true freshman. As a junior, Carpenter recorded 93 tackles, three interceptions and two sacks. He turned into more of a pass rusher during his senior year, as he amassed 49 tackles and eight sacks.
Carpenter is a physical specimen. At 6-foot-2 1/2, 256 pounds, Carpenter is extremely fast for his size. Due to his freakish nature, he was able to display his versatility at Ohio State. Carpenter was best known in the college ranks for his ability to rush the passer. He was also thought of as a solid pass defender.
Along with the physical tools come the intangibles. Carpenter is thought of as a tough, hard-nosed linebacker. He is also very intelligent and has a reputation of being a hard worker. Add that to a player with no known character issues that sometimes submarine a player's career, and Carpenter appears to have all the ingredients that makeup a solid pro football player.
The basics of football are often said to be blocking and tackling. Carpenter will need to show improvement in these two areas of the game if he is going to have success at the next level. Carpenter is not as sure of a tackler as his teammate linebacker A.J. Hawk, and he has struggled at times getting off of blocks.
When he is left to roam free and make plays, more often than not he has success, although he is considered by some to be a little too reckless and lacking proper technique at times. When he gets to the NFL, he will no longer be a man amongst boys, so he will need to be rooted in the basic fundamentals. Carpenter won't be at a physical advantage in the NFL like he was in the Big Ten.
Carpenter's leg injury caused him to miss the Senior Bowl in January. He was at the NFL Scouting Combine in February but went through his full workout for NFL teams at his Pro Day with his leg at 90 percent. He finished with a 4.66 40 time, 20 reps at 225 pounds, 34.5-inch vertical jump, 10-foot-4 long jump and reportedly looked very sharp in positional drills.
Carpenter is one player that most experts agree on. Many project Carpenter will be selected in the bottom third of the first round. This will likely put Carpenter on a competitive team right away, something that his former teammate Hawk won't have the benefit of.
Given this depth at this position and the question marks around his leg, it is not a stretch to see Carpenter slide to the middle of the second round come draft day.
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About Michael Nappi
Michael Nappi has been playing fantasy football since 1989 and has been a KFFL Contributor since 2003
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