Associated Press

PRO 2021 Rookie Spotlight: Michael Carter, RB North Carolina

Rookie Spotlight: Michael Carter, North Carolina
Height: 5’ 7 7/8”
Weight: 202 lbs
Hands: 9”
Arm: 29 1/2”
40 yard dash: 4.6
NFL Comparison: Gio Bernard, Deandre Washington, Devin Singletary

– good contact balance below waist
– smooth running style
– extremely agile
– physical for his size
– soft hands
– good ball security
– explosive in spurts

– undersized
– average long speed
– inconsistent pass protection, horrible reps at Senior Bowl

Scouting Notes: Carter packs a punch despite his relatively diminutive stature compared to a lot of “lead” backs. If you try to tackle him below his waist, good luck with that. Carter keeps his legs churning, and is only likely to go down with first contact if he’s tackled at the torso. Carter has a low center of gravity, and therefore he’s got excellent contact balance to play off of his smooth running style. Carter changes direction without much pause and is agile enough to make men miss with regularity, though he’s not afraid of contact. His hands are small at just under 9”, but Carter displays soft hands catching balls out of the backfield, and he rarely fumbles – He only had 3 fumbles over 488 touches. He also had back-to-back 1,000+ yards rushing seasons as a Tarheel – Not bad for a “complimentary back”. Not particularly fast, Carter is still explosive in short spurts enough to make one cut and be gone down the field. He brings that burst to his kick returning as well, as he averaged 24.5 yards per return in 2019. As a blocker, Carter is willing if uneven. He doesn’t always have the power to upend his defender and his reps in pass-pro at the Senior Bowl were some of the worst we’ve seen since Kenyan Drake’s year. If you want to be a James White-type in the NFL, we would prefer you look a little more like James White did in those drills during his Senior Bowl week, which is basically the opposite of how Carter took the drill work. Considering his size and lack of swiftness, Carter was tremendously productive in college. He may not work his way into a bellcow role in the NFL, but that’s a rare sight these days anyway. He has the upside to break several big plays open in any given game – He had 29 carries of 15+ yards in 2020, the best mark in the nation.

Fantasy Outlook: Carter does most things that you want from a 3-down back adequately, but his size and speed will likely keep him out of that role, at least initially, in the NFL. He’s likely to be a day 3 pick for a team that needs a shifty change of pace back with room to grow (Jacksonville, New England, etc.). His handiness catching the ball could also spark the interest of virtually any team, as that’s a must in today’s NFL. Fortunately, Carter doesn’t need to be on the field every offensive down to do damage, and his prowess in the return game should get him involved early in his career. He’s well worth a flyer in dynasty due to his high potential ceiling in PPR formats, but he’s not a player we’re actively targeting pre-NFL Draft at his current dynasty rookie draft ADP of early second round. That could change with landing spot known.

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