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I can pretty much guarantee that nobody had James Carpenter going to the Seahawks in the first round. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that had him going in the first round to anyone. That doesn’t mean he is a bad pick. My DVR has been home to 210 mins of Senior Bowl footage since January for this exact scenario. Watching Carpenter play is far more instructive than reading what people think about him. I will share what I observed since I’m guessing most of you have better uses for your DVR space.
Carpenter started at left tackle for the South team, which got the ball first to start the game. The first three plays of the game went like this:
– Deep pass from Christian Ponder to Leonard Hankerson with Ryan (1st round pick) Kerrigan bull rushing Carpenter. Carpenter held up nicely, getting moved back, but not getting run over.
– Run up the gut with Carpenter showing some nice speed getting to the second level of the defense, but nobody really there to hit.
– Another pass play with Kerrigan trying to get around the edge and Carpenter perfectly runs him outside the pocket.
It took all of three plays for NFL Network’s Mike Mayock to point out Carpenter. He said going into the week, he had Carpenter as a later round pick, but that he had one of the better weeks of the lineman participating.
The South went on to take a 10-0 lead on their first two possessions before Carpenter sat. At no time did Carpenter miss a block or look overwhelmed. Two things stuck out, in particular, about him. First, he’s got remarkably quick feet for a man of his size. And second, he always finishes the play. I must have seen him running down field 80% of the time after the pass was complete or running back was through the hole. For anyone that’s read Pete Carroll’s book, you’ll know how much that matters to him. He talks in the book about a time when he was an assistant in Minnesota, and Bud Grant yelled at him for not watching the players run their laps around the field. Grant’s point was that you could see which guys tried to run hard and beat the guy next to him, and which guys just went through the motions. Carpenter’s effort would not appear to be an issue from what I saw.
His pass blocking appeared ahead of his run blocking. He’s a big guy, and I would have expected a little more push in the running game. He was going up against first-round talent on the North defensive line, but the ends were not exactly huge. He seemed to play a little high, and was not getting the drive you’d expect. You’d hope Tom Cable could fix that.
A number of sites list him as a guard or a tackle. Carpenter has the size to play guard, but he plays like a tackle. I’d expect him to take the right tackle spot, so it’s possible we’ll see another interior lineman go off the board for the Hawks before the draft is done.
If you’re looking for a glowing report, you are not going to find one. He appears to be good right tackle prospect. The downside seems low. He does not look like a “Lamar King” risk. By definition, though, there is only so much a right tackle can mean to a team’s performance. John Schneider’s pick of Carpenter will be judged less by how well he plays, and more by how well the players picked behind him play. There were some really talented guys that the team passed on in order to address the right tackle position. That is unconventional, and feels an awful lot like reaching for a need. Only time will reveal truth on that one.