NFL Draft Profile: Bruce Carter 

August, 2, 2010

Getty ImagesBruce Carter's athleticism has allowed him to block six punts in his career, including this one against Connecticut in 2008.
When North Carolina Tar Heels outside linebacker Bruce Carter decided to return to UNC for his senior season, he told the Raleigh News and Observer:

    "I'm going to come back and finish my education."

On the surface, he may have meant that his work in the classroom wasn't quite complete -- though he'll have enough credits to graduate in December -- but his words ring just as true regarding his work on the football field.

Asked how he plans to improve his game as a senior for the Tar Heels in 2010, Carter's response indicates that this season will be all about putting the finishing touches on a package that should become a fixture on Sundays.

"I want to shape everything up," said Carter, coming off a summer where he was named college football's top "freak" athlete by ESPN's Bruce Feldman, thanks to his eye-opening work in the weight room and on the track. "Work on the small things."

Fortunately, he'll have a considerable amount of help applying these finishing touches.

In fact, Carter says that the person that influences him the most lines up to his right on Saturdays, fellow senior linebacker Quan Sturdivant. "We compete, we watch film together and we push each other," Carter noted. In addition to all of that, both players can find their names on the preseason Bronko Nagurski award watch list (given to the nation's best defensive player) and the Dick Butkus award watch list (given to the top linebacker). The two seem to be closely linked in their head coach's mind, too.

"We're very fortunate to have two marquee linebackers in Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant that are almost synonymous when you say their names because they've been starting since they were true freshmen," Butch Davis told Blue Ribbon. "Their leadership and the things they do in practice, the professional approach they take about trying to get better every day, set a great example for our younger guys."

For Bruce, part of setting that example is returning for his senior year, and it's a decision that's put him on top of many draft pundits' boards. Had Carter elected to declare his eligibility for the NFL after three campaigns in Chapel Hill, he would have been drafted, but probably not on the first night. As it stands, Carter is one of the most heralded linebackers in the country.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has Carter ranked first amongst draft-eligible outside linebackers. In his first 2011 mock draft, Todd McShay of Scouts Inc. has Carter being selected 10th overall , the only linebacker in the top 10.