Can Bruce Carter be the next Derrick Brooks?

GRAPEVINE, Texas – Linebacker Bruce Carter has heard one name over and over again since the Cowboys hired Monte Kiffin as defensive coordinator.

“Everybody’s just been hitting me with it – Derrick Brooks, Derrick Brooks,” Carter said. "That's a good thing."

Brooks was the prototype Will linebacker in the Tampa 2 scheme, as evidenced by his 11 Pro Bowl appearances during the 13 seasons he was coached by Kiffin on the Buccaneers. It’s certainly premature to put Carter in that class, but as was the case with Brooks in Tampa, Kiffin has inherited a young player with physical traits and instincts that make him a perfect fit to be a playmaker from the weakside linebacker spot in his scheme.

Carter might be the NFL’s fastest linebacker. He was clocked at 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash at a North Carolina pro day and ran down Atlanta receiver Julio Jones from behind last season. Carter blossomed into a sideline-to-sideline force as an inside linebacker in Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme last season before missing the final five games due to a dislocated elbow.

Fully healthy again, Carter looks forward to flying around in Kiffin’s 4-3 like Brooks used to do. As soon as he heard Kiffin was coming, Carter started studying film of Brooks’ work from Tampa Bay’s days of playing dominant defense.

“He was always around the ball,” Carter said. “He was always flying around. He was a playmaker. He was always in the right position at the right time. That’s something I want to do.”

Kiffin and the Cowboys are counting on it.