IRVING (AP) – The Dallas Cowboys got new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan his first fresh piece — a speedy linebacker. Then they added another running back that can catch the ball out of the backfield.
Dallas used the 40th overall pick in the second round of the NFL draft Friday to select Bruce Carter from North Carolina. With the 71st pick in the third round, the Cowboys selected Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray.
It is the second year in a row the Cowboys used their second-round pick on a linebacker. Last April, they took Sean Lee out of Penn State.
Carter, a former high school quarterback and running back who has been clocked at 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash, started 44 of his 49 games at outside linebacker for North Carolina before tearing his left ACL late last season. He will likely play inside linebacker in the Cowboys’ 3-4 scheme.
Ryan is keeping the 3-4 defense the Cowboys have used since Bill Parcells was their coach, but will deploy it differently. Ryan will move guys around and disguise who is coming from where to confuse quarterbacks.
In his four seasons at UNC, Carter had 215 tackles (145 solo) with 9 1/2 sacks. He deflected nine passes and returned two interceptions for touchdowns.
He was also a standout on special teams, setting a school record with seven blocked kicks (six punts, one field goal).
Murray set Oklahoma’s career record with 65 total touchdowns and 6,718 all-purpose yards in his 50 games. He had two 1,000-yard rushing seasons for the Sooners and averaged 27.6 yards on kickoff returns.
Carter had been considered by many a potential first-round pick before surgery in December to repair a torn ACL in his left knee that forced him to miss North Carolina’s bowl game.
“I just didn’t want teams to overlook me just because of my knee,” said Carter, who was forced to constantly answer questions about his injury during the pre-draft process. “It was very frustrating to hear it over and over again. It’s something you have to explain.”
Carter said he has started cutting on the knee and is getting back into a regular routine with his workouts, including squats and leg presses.
With the ninth overall pick Thursday night, the Cowboys selected offensive tackle Tyron Smith from Southern Cal. It was the first time under Jerry Jones’ ownership that Dallas used a first-round pick on an offensive lineman.
Smith and Carter were among the players the Cowboys had visit their Valley Ranch facility before the draft.
“The visit was awesome,” Carter said. “Jerry was an awesome guy. We sat down and had lunch together. … I ‘m just ready to learn and ready to get after it.”
During that visit, Carter also spent time with Ryan, who taught him a few plays and then quizzed him about what he had learned in a short time. Carter said he did good on that.
And he already has a good impression of his new defensive coordinator.
“He’s a fired-up guy. I love his attitude,” Carter said. “He’s a coach that loves to get after it, he’s a players coach. … He will jump up and down on the sideline with you. You just love coaches like that.”
Lee, who was also coming off a knee injury in college, played 14 games in his rookie season for the Cowboys. He had 45 tackles and two interceptions, returning one of them for a touchdown off Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning.
Veteran linebackers Keith Brooking and Bradie James, the Cowboys’ top two tacklers last season, are both going into the final years of their contracts. Brooking has played 13 NFL seasons, the last two in Dallas, and James has spent all his eight seasons with the Cowboys.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)