MICHAEL CARTER | NORTH CAROLINA 5’7” 201 lbs. 5/7/1999 (Age 21)
Michael Carter was drafted Round 4 Pick 2 by the New York Jets, becoming the fifth running back and 107th overall player in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Running: Michael Carter averaged eight yards per carry during his senior season at UNC, but the tape really looked underwhelming as a whole. When I watch Michael Carter, I see someone who is always looking at where the hole will be created for him, instead of someone who is running to make yards for himself. On the inside, he keeps a good low pad level, as if to hide from defenders, but doesn’t have the burst to break through early oncoming defenders. On the outside, Carter does well combining his speed and vision, however, his acceleration and deceleration in and out of his cuts are underwhelming which makes him feel slower. I have some big doubts about Carter’s ability as a rusher at the next level.
Receiving: Carter was a consistent receiver in college, but really stepped up his yards per catch last year to 10.7 on 25 catches, but it’s a little deceiving. He only had about two catches that he was able to turn into big plays (over 20 yards) for his team His route running looked lazy at times but does a great job using his hands to bring in the ball. His cutting that I referenced in his running style also translates into his route running, which makes him look slow out of his cuts.
Pass Blocking: I didn’t see Carter in pass protection that often on tape. It probably has a lot to do with the presence of Javonte Williams and his 5’10” 220 lbs frame while Carter clocks in at 5’8” 199 lbs. If you’re looking for more pros on Michael Carter, this section is not where they will be found. He is small and was even knocked down once trying to block a player who was already engaged with another blocker (Miami game).
Overall: I was extremely underwhelmed watching a running back that many had contending for the top five in this class. Carter doesn’t run that well in and out of his cuts both with the ball in his hands and while running routes. He’s good at catching the ball but didn’t have many explosive plays last year after the catch. He’s also small which will hurt him in pass protection at the next level. Finally, a deeper dive into his stats from his senior year shows that his production was extremely bolstered by two very impressive games against Miami (308 rushing yards) and Virginia Tech (214 rushing yards). He reached 106 and 121 in two other games but failed to hit 90 rushing yards in his other seven games. That’s extremely disappointing, especially considering the fact that he played in the ACC.
Rapid Reaction to Draft Capital: Average
Rapid Reaction to Landing Spot: Great
Of course, my New York Jets take the running back I don’t like that much! Top of the fourth round isn’t great draft capital for a running back, but landing with the Jets and their empty backfield currently lead by last year’s fourth-round pick, La’Mical Perine, means Michael Carter has the chance to be fantasy relevant very quickly. The Jets are moving to a zone-scheme running attack this year with new OC Mike LaFleur coming to the team, and they are beefing up their offensive line to protect our newest and most precious asset, QB Zach Wilson. Don’t draft Michael Carter until the mid-late second round, please. Carter can be fantasy-relevant, but he has nothing long-term secured. As the Jets, hopefully, improve with Joe Douglas managing the team, they will most likely bring on more running backs when they have the luxury to do so. The fan in me hopes that Michael Carter is actually very good, but I’m going to make smart decisions for my fantasy team, by waiting until the late second to grab him. As for La’Mical Perine, he didn’t show much last year, and he’s still a worse prospect than Michael Carter so I don’t believe we’ll see him used as anything more than a utility RB/WR on third downs.
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