Dexter Carter, the 49ers' first-round pick in the NFL draft, owes Dave Meggett lunch. Or something better, such as a large annuity or a summer home in the Hamptons. "He's earned part of my signing bonus," Carter said on Sunday night, still euphoric about being the 25th selection overall.
Meggett is the Giants' 5'7", 180-pound dynamo who as a rookie last year caught 34 passes, rushed 28 times for 117 yards, returned 27 kickoffs, fielded 60 punts and scored a touchdown in the Pro Bowl on a pass play. Carter, from Florida State, is a 5'8½", 169-pound rusher-receiver-returner, and he realizes that he and 5'6½", 201-pound Steve Broussard of Washington State, a do-it-all back taken in the first round (and 20th overall) by Atlanta, owe much of their draft standings to the recent success of versatile little backs like Meggett.
"In every conversation I had with a scout this year, Dave Meggett's name was mentioned," says Carter. "I'd tell them, 'I can be that kind of player. I can make that kind of impact.' "
Teams recognized the impact made by Meggett and by another rookie, 5'9", 180-pound Eric Metcalf of Cleveland, and some of them decided to get a player out of the same mold. "The Meggett factor is huge," says Meggett's agent, Tony Agnone. "A bunch of teams asked me if I had another Meggett this year."
Carter averaged 5.5 yards a carry, caught 64 passes and picked up 26.1 yards a return in his college career. Broussard led the Pac-10 in receiving as a sophomore with 59 catches and in rushing as a junior with 1,141 yards. Last season he ran for 1,237 yards.
San Francisco plans to have Carter return kicks, but if he proves durable enough, he will have the chance to be Roger Craig's heir at running back in two or three years. Broussard could become the Falcons' every-down feature back, and soon. "I think teams have thrown away the prejudice not to take a small back," says Carter.