Tank Carder, OLB, Texas Christian
6-foot-2, 236 pounds
Draft projection fourth to sixth rounds
Lowdown: Carder was a world champion BMX racer as a 10-year-old. He came back from a horrific automobile accident at age 13. He was the Mountain West defensive player of the year each of the last two years. Now he’s about to start a career as a run-and-chase outside linebacker in the NFL.
Carder is the kind of mobile outside linebacker who could interest the Buffalo Bills. He told reporters at the TCU pro day last week he will visit the Buffalo Bills April 1-2 and the Dallas Cowboys April 5. (Teams can host 30 prospects before the draft.) His real name is Ricky Carder Jr., but he was dubbed Tank because he was such a big baby. He told reporters at last month’s NFL Scouting Combine he started riding a bicycle without training wheels when he was just 19 months old. At age 3, he won his first BMX, off-road bicycling event. He went on to win numerous national titles and then won a world title in France in 1999. Then he gave up the sport. Three years later, he nearly died after being thrown from a one-car crash. A rod broke, and the vehicle flipped three times. Carder broke his back in two places and suffered seven broken ribs. As a freshman on the Sweeny (Texas) High team, he was allowed only to play kicker, and he had to run off the field with the tee to avoid any contact. It wasn’t until his junior year he was allowed to tackle.
Carder went on to a wonderfully productive career for the Horned Frogs. He started 39 games over three seasons and made 228 tackles. He helped lead a TCU defense that ranked No. 1 in the country in 2010 and No. 29 in 2011. In TCU’s 21-19 Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin in 2011, Carder made a leaping bat-down of the Badgers potential game-tying two-point conversion pass with 2 minutes left. The receiver was wide open at the goal line 5 yards behind Carder. Carder’s lack of size could be a question for some teams entering the draft. He also had two shoulder surgeries during his college career, but he was fully healthy his senior year. Carder showed better athleticism than some expected at the combine. His 40-yard dash time (4.69 seconds) was 11th best among linebackers. His 3-cone drill time (6.89) was second best. His short-shuttle time (4.18) was fourth best.
Carder was asked at the combine whether he missed bike racing. “Sometimes I think about what it could have been and what I could have done with it,” he said. “One of my good friends is like a brother to me I still talk to him this day. Bubba Harris, I raced him all through when I was growing up. His dad is actually my manager who owned Answer (racing team) and raced. He still does it to this day. He makes $80,000, $90,000 a year, a pretty good living for just bike racing. I always think about what it could have been, how good I could have been at it and what I could have accomplished. But it’s too far gone now. I would never go back to it. Football now is hopefully going to work out for me. That’s part of my near future right now.”
(The News is profiling 50 prospects in 50 days leading up to the 2012 NFL Draft.)