6’3, 230 pounds | Outside linebacker | North Carolina
Coverage/Zone Defense Skills: For as freaskishly athletic as Carter is, you’d expect him to be a much better pass defender. However, his zone coverage is lacking and he’s late to react when the ball is in the air. He has the agility and foot speed to cover tight ends, but needs to get a better understanding of routes. Is a real terror against screen passes. Against them, Carter can show off his combination of athleticism and speed.
Instincts/Recognition: Returning for his senior year, Carter should only show more improvement in this area. He has been questionable at times in the past on reading plays pre-snap and making adjustments. Has to use his speed and quickness to make up for being a step late at times breaking on the ball. If Carter doesn’t improve in this area as a senior, it may lead some teams to question his work ethic in the film room.
Pass Rush: Carter is somewhat miscast at North Carolina in that he’s too frequently asked to drop back in coverage. If he played in a defensive scheme that called for more pressure from the linebackers, the opinion of Carter might be higher here. But as it is, he’s somewhat green in the pass rush. He clearly has the tools to be an excellent pass rusher but doesn’t get to show it often. With his struggles to shed blocks and the extra attention he’ll get in 2010, don’t look for Carter to show a lot of tangible improvement in this area.
Pursuit/Lateral Movement and Agility: Carter is incredible in pursuit. He can change direction instantly and gets up to his top speed quickly. He takes proper angles toward the ball carrier and can be a violent hitter. He shows fluid hips which helps his change-of-direction ability and stop on a dime in the open field. As aggressive of a player as Carter is, he maintains good balance in his movement. Ran a reported 4.39 40-yard dash.
Quickness/Explosion: Displays plus quickness, especially at the snap. Really fires out of his stance to get around the corner and at the ball carrier. Gets to show his explosion on field goals and extra points. Blocked five kicks last year because he knows how to properly time the snap and fire out of the blocks.
Strength/Ability to Shed Blocks: Strictly on a play-to-play basis, this is where Carter needs to show the most improvement. Carter has plenty of raw strength – his bench press is 440 pounds and he has a 374-pound power clean. But that strength doesn’t always translate when shedding blocks. Has said he’s up to 240 pounds but plays at 230. If he Carter is put on a 3-4 team, he may have to play at about 250.
Versatility: For now, Carter should be first considered a weak-side linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. His pass rush skills haven’t matured quite as much as maybe they should have. But with proper coaching, Carter has the athletic talents to move into a 3-4 OLB role if he can add some strength to shed blocks better.
Final Word: At the moment, Carter is as much of an athlete as he is a football player. His athletic skill is unquestioned. He’s fast, agile and strong. But he hasn’t put it all together on the field yet. In 2009, he had 7.5 tackles for loss, four quarterback hurries and two sacks – hardly impressive stats.
Carter returned to school to get his degree. What that extra year of college football should do for him could be invaluable.