NFL Rookie Watch: Delone Carter
No NFL team has gained fewer rushing yards the past two seasons than Indianapolis -- this despite the fact the Colts have mostly relied on a pair of former first-round running backs. The ground game has worked against the AFC's most feared passing attack, and it has puzzled the club's fanbase. With opponents so concerned with what Peyton Manning is doing, why can't the backfield move the football?
In April, the team used its fourth-round selection on Syracuse's Delone Carter. It's rare for mid-round picks to bring about such excitement, but in Indianapolis, where fans are desperate for an answer, some believe Carter is holding a golden ticket to the front of the depth chart. He's not exceptionally fast (4.54 in the 40-yard dash at the Combine) nor is his collegiate resume all that impressive (he finished third in Big East rushing his senior season) -- he's just an alternative to what hasn't worked for Indianapolis.
Before the draft, some analysts viewed Carter as a short-yardage specialist or as a potential complement to an established back. Others suggested he has more to offer. Said the NFL Network's Mike Mayock, "In a zone [blocking] scheme, a downhill, one-type guy, he could carry the ball 20 times a game."
Colts fans have their fingers crossed.
Both Blount and Carter are power backs who can handle the duties that come with being a featured back. By midseason last year, Blount was the Buccaneers' primary ball carrier and had become a driving force in Tampa Bay's push for a playoff spot. He was also the only rookie rusher to gain 1,000 or more yards. The same could be true of Carter this season.
In most drafts this summer, Carter shouldn't come off the board before the eighth round. If he pushes past Addai and Brown, he'll spend most of the season in your starting lineup; if he fails, he'll become expendable.