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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: RB Michael Carter, North Carolina

The Giants need depth at running back, so how well does the undersized Carter project to fit at the NFL level?

RB MICHAEL CARTER

Height: 5'8"
Weight: 202lbs.
Class: Senior
School: North Carolina


A former three-star recruit out of Navarre, Florida, who attended Navarre High School. Carter was the 433rd recruit and the 54th in the state of Florida during the 2017 recruiting cycle. Earned a 2019 honorable mention All-ACC for his all-purpose, versatile ability. Also named Third Team All-ACC in 2019 and was on the Doak Walker Award watch list and the Paul Hornung watch list in 2020.

He had a very productive senior season for the Tar Heels. He rushed 156 times for 1245 yards and nine touchdowns to go along with 25 catches for 267 yards and three touchdowns. 

Carter averaged 5.8 yards per carry his freshman year, then 7.1, 5.8, and 8 YPC in the subsequent years. He finished his wildly productive time at UNC with 514 carries, 3404 yards (6.6 YPC), and 28 total touchdowns, along with 85 catches for 656 yards.

Notables

Reese’s Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy made a wise decision adding Carter to the Senior Bowl. The entire week of practice was filled with his electric ability and quickness, and then he capped off the week with an impressive rushing touchdown in the game itself. Carter should be a day two pick in the draft, along with his more physical teammate Javonte Williams.

Traits

He is an undersized, compact running back who has lightning-quick feet and excellent overall athletic ability. Possess excellent explosiveness/burst, agility, and acceleration--can get up to a second and third gear. 

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He uses tempo really well and patience before he hits a hole with exceptional burst. He played in a heavy pin-pull, power/gap system at North Carolina, which is the same style that Jason Garrett likes to run.

Very elusive in space. He moves well laterally and does a great job forcing missed tackles with his slippery nature. He lowers his pad level and plays with good contact balance--he works well through trash and finds his way through tight crevices. 

He brings good physical toughness to the field and always keeps his legs churning; however, he’s not a pile mover. His game is much more about getting him into space and having him make players miss with his open-field ability and athleticism.


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Good vision to see backside cut-back lanes and is a decisive, yet patient, runner. He gets behind his blockers and times his commitment to burst well to take advantage of over-eager linebackers and second-level defenders. He does well on the outside runs but can also run well within the tackles. Hit the A and B-Gaps like he’s shot out of a cannon when holes present themselves.

He will make for a very good change-of-pace back right out of the gate. A difficult assignment for linebackers to cover in man, and he runs solid routes out of the backfield. Carter’s big issue is pass protection. He shows marginal play strength, good effort but isn’t effective at stopping blitzers on the edge and even up the middle.

He plays with good play strength when running the football but has to get better technically and from a strength standpoint as a pass protector. Overall, Carter is going to step into the league and be an effective change of pace back in the NFL. 

He would be ideal for a third-down role because of his pass-catching ability if he could competently pass protect. However, he struggles with that right now, so he’ll have to get better to earn consistent snaps on third down, so the offense isn’t one-dimensional. 


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