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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Interest in Markell Carter is more evidence Bucs considering 'tweeners'

18

April

Central Arkansas defensive end Markell Carter, a small school prospect who is garnering significant interest as the draft approaches, arrives in Tampa tonight and will spend Tuesday visiting with the Bucs.

At 6-4 and 252 pounds, Carter is not the prototypical 4-3 defensive end, which might suggest he wouldn't appeal to the Bucs.

But times have changed. Coach Raheem Morris, who is also the Bucs' defensive coordinator, continues to show a willingness to find roles for the type of players who once weren't associated with the Bucs. Like Quincy Black and Dekoda Watson -- college pass rushers who have been used in unique roles as Buccaneers -- Carter is one of those "tweener" prospects who is projected as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

To that end, Carter has had a private workout with the Packers, a team with one of the better 3-4 defenses around. But he's also drawing interest from 4-3 teams who think they can find a role for him. After stopping in Tampa Bay, Carter will travel to Atlanta to meet with the Falcons. He's also had a private workout with the Jaguars, another 4-3 club.

As for the Bucs, Morris and general manager Mark Dominik will consider drafting players the Bucs didn't traditionally take an interest in.

And Carter is just the latest. The Bucs have taken a close look at Akeem Ayers of UCLA, another pass rusher who is not a clear-cut defensive end or linebacker at the NFL level. 

"Raheem's flexibility of what he wants to do has really helped our draft board be more fluid than most clubs, I think," Dominik said in February. "It helps us now really open up the board more, and we love it. We've always had a hard time figuring out these tweener guys, and we just take them off our board and don't get them. So it's disappointing. This keeps those guys alive, and I feel like a lot more teams keep going back to the 3-4, which is great because it also opens up some of those (4-3) guys as well."

Carter is the kind of athlete (4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash) that leaves a team like the Bucs intrigued, but the no-man's land he falls into often scares off 4-3 teams.

These days, however, it seems the Bucs are longer afraid to make a bold and unconventional move.

[Last modified: Monday, April 18, 2011 10:41pm]

    

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