Tank Carder’s list of honors is a long one.
First-team All-American, Rose Bowl MVP, Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year – twice.
But Carder knows an impressive résumé doesn't go far without an impressive interview.
The former TCU linebacker will have to prove himself all over again at the NFL Combine beginning today in Indianapolis, Ind. The week-long event, held at Lucas Oil Stadium, will feature more than 300 of the top prospects for April’s NFL Draft.
Carder, who's been training the past month in San Diego with other prospects, said he has been doing all he can to get ready, working out from 9 a.m. until four in the afternoon every day.
“It’s a daily grind every day,” Carder said. “We’re getting ready for the biggest job interview of our lives.”
Before heading to California, Carder had the chance to play in the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Jan. 21. Carder said practicing and playing with talented players, all looking for a spot on an NFL team, got him up to speed on the level of competition he would have to get used to at the next level.
“You kind of get to see the talent,” Carder said. “Those guys, they’re all fighting for a spot on NFL teams and a lot of them will get a spot on the 53-man roster.”
Carder will have to fight, too. And it won’t be easy.
CBSSports.com has Carder ranked as the 22nd best outside linebacker in the draft and 233rd overall. Other draft publications, such as nfldraftscout.com, project Carder as a sixth-to-seventh round pick.
Carder isn't oblivious. He knows he won't be a first-rounder, and he knows, despite the stockpile of accolades he earned in college, he'll have to prove himself all over again this week.
But that's also what drives him, Carder said.
“Whenever people doubt you and think you can’t make it, that’s motivation for me,” said Carder, who will also get a chance to work out for scouts at the TCU Pro Day March 9. “It’s always fun when you go to the next level and be the underdog and the nobody and try to make your name.”
Carder said grabbing the attention of just one team could be the difference in hearing his name called in April or not getting drafted at all.
“I could not get drafted, I could go second round, I could go seventh round,” Carder said. “It’s really up for grabs. There’s 32 teams, and I’ve got to get one team to like me.”
Getting a chance, even if it’s just once, is all he wants – and needs, Carder said.
“The rounds don’t matter to me,” Carder said. “There’s guys that have gone undrafted and are complete ballers that get to the league and just show out.”
But even Carder, who’s dreamed of playing in the NFL since he was a kid, knows making it to the next level is about more than just football – it’s about making a living.
Making an NFL roster would not only be a dream realized but also a source of income, something the recently-engaged Carder said he has to have, especially with a fiancee and son to support.
“Right now, this is the job I’m trying to get,” Carder said. “This is what’s going to support my family and hopefully set my family up later down the road.”
Carder said that's a responsibility he hasn't forgotten. If anything, it's given him even more incentive.
“They definitely motivate me in whatever I’m doing in life because I know it’s not just me,” Carder said. “You can be a bum on the street if that’s what you choose to be, but I got more than just me to worry about.”