Twitter and the news wires are awash with the news that Dallas linebacker Bobby Carpenter is about to be traded to the Rams.
No, Fake-Bobby, not for Bradford. For our biggest headache left on the roster after last season’s purge, Alex Barron. Which means that Bobby must be some kind of headache in his own right, right? Apparently, we don’t know the half of it.
His original scouting reports lauded his speed for his size, his “high motor,” his knowledge of the game, his pedigree (Bobby is the son of former New York Giant Rob Carpenter), and the good company of playing alongside fellow Ohio State star linebackers AJ Hawk and Anthony Schlegel. Schlegel bombed out of the NFL in two short years, though, and Hawk is still fighting to live up to the billing of being a top-5 pick.
After being drafted 18th overall by Dallas in 2006, Scout.com’s report called him “a very emotional player” and “a prototypical Bill Parcells linebacker.”
However, he couldn’t get on the field much, starting only one game out of 13 played in his rookie year. Then, of course, Parcells bolted for Miami’s front office in 2007, taking defensive coordinator Tony Sparano with him, and essentially stranding the young draft pick in a system that no longer seemed suited to him.
Very quickly, as the first round pick was buried third on the depth chart at ILB, and tarred with the “soft” label, the question arose that would dog him for the rest of his time in Dallas: is Bobby Carpenter a bust?
By 2008, it was a legitimate question. Carpenter had recorded only 26 solo tackles in two seasons, and contributed only 1.5 sacks. Moreover, HBO’s Hard Knocks series very publicly broadcast the low opinion of Carpenter held by the players and coaches left behind after Parcells’ and Sparano’s departure:
— Dallas Observer: “Hard Knocks Recap, Week 4“
How would this “very emotional player” would react to such a public pantsing by his team? Or to being essentially benched for most of a lost 2008 season? Pro Football Focus charted only 25 snaps — 18 of those in the Cowboys’ shocking loss to the Rams.
However, in 2009, he earned his way back onto the field — not as a starter, but as a solid contributor in the passing game. And now, with his departure apparently imminent, some observers are willing to give the long-haired player the benefit of the doubt.
He never complained publicly about the lack of playing time or opportunity. He continued to work hard and he made some plays last year that helped the Cowboys win games that some of you will never admit.
— Bobby Archer, Dallas News.com: “Bobby Carpenter can be a productive player“
If he joins the Rams as expected, he may find a brotherhood with a couple of defensive teammates who share some similarities. One is former OSU teammate James Laurinaitis — another smart, rangy linebacker who isn’t necessarily the hardest hitter, but no one questions his passion for the game. Another is Chris Long — a still-young first round pick and son of a Hall-of-Fame NFLer who is just starting to show the promise that the Rams saw three drafts ago. In an interesting side note, both Laurinaitis and Long are working out in Jay Glazer’s MMA-inspired training program.
Rams fans hope that the light bulb goes on for Carpenter, too.