Buddy Nix said he would like to add two offensive tackles during this draft and he did just that by adding Florida State tackle Zebrie Sanders in round five. The Bills followed this pick up by selecting linebacker Tank Carder from TCU just three picks later with their second fifth round selection. Sanders and Carder both add depth to two positions of need for Buffalo heading into the draft.
The Bills added their second massive tackle of the draft as Sanders stands at 6'5 and weighs about 320 pounds. He came out of high school as a coveted four-star recruit and left his hometown state of Ohio for Florida State. He proved to be a durable four-year player that started since he arrived on campus as a freshman. Sanders started an impressive 50 of his 53 games played in his career as a Seminole. He is a natural right side tackle, but proved this past season that he can anchor the left side in a pinch.
"He's played right and left tackle at Florida State. He started the season at right tackle. The left tackle had a shoulder injury and they moved him to left," said Bills scout Darrell Moody. He was a productive player at both positions, at right and left. I thought initially that he would be a left tackle, but now I'm not sure whether he's a right tackle or a left tackle. Joe (D'Alessandris) will just have to work at that and develop that. I think he's more of a developing player than Cordy (Glenn)."
Not only does Sanders give the Bills great size, but he also provides them with tremendous strength. He bench pressed 225 pounds 28 times at this year's combine. Sanders also has a wingspan of 83 inches, along with an arm length of 34 inches.
"He's got good size. He's got good length," Moody said.
Buffalo added their second linebacker of the day with another experienced collegiate player. Carder started 39 consecutive games for TCU from 2009-2011. He was a two-time Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year (2010, 2011).
"I'm excited," said Carder, who made a pre-draft visit with the Bills in Buffalo. "When I went up there I had a good feeling and loved the facilities and everything. It was real low key and nothing too fancy and that was what I liked about it. It wasn't a lot of flash and I love that. I just want to come do my part and help the team wherever I can."
Carder's ability in coverage was readily apparent in his time with the Horned Frogs as he took three of his four career interceptions back for touchdowns. His speed was a bit of a concern for some teams, but it wasn't a deterring factor for the Bills.
"He plays a lot faster than he timed at the Combine," said Bills Scout Shawn Heinlen. "He is an instinctive player. He is smart and he has played inside and out. He closes very fast. He has great coverage skills. He is fluid for a linebacker. He changes direction well. His short area quickness is very good. And like I said because of his instincts and his intelligence to diagnose things, he just has a feel for the game. He plays a lot faster than he times."
"My strengths are my agility and my lateral movement," said Carder. "I take good angles to the ball."
Carder had a pair of shoulder surgeries during his college career, but said they're fine and the best they've ever felt.
"I'm tough," he said. "I had three surgeries and never missed any games."
The linebacker has a very unique story that makes this day for him even more special than some other draft hopefuls. He was a world champion BMX rider at just the age of nine, but he wanted to spend more of his time playing with friends and of course playing football. Carder spent about two years away from the extreme sport, but in seventh grade was drawn back to it.
Unfortunately, he was badly injured in a single-car wreck upon returning and doctors told him it was unknown if he would walk again. He broke his back in two spots, suffered punctured lungs, and fractured seven ribs. Everything checked out medically on him at the NFL Combine.
Carder has been a key member of TCU's recent success in football and even earned the 2011 Rose Bowl MVP. From 2009-2011 the Horned Frogs went 36-3 and had two BCS Bowl appearances winning the Rose Bowl following the 2010 season.
"Everything he does he is very good at and he competes at a high level," said Heinlen. "That is kind of the way he is made up. He is just a really competitive guy that likes to excel at whatever he is doing."