The Future 2021 NFL Draft Prospects: Michael Carter
Updated: Apr 2, 2021
Michael is my 4th ranked running behind just behind his former UNC teammate Javonte Williams. Carter was the change of pace back for the Tar Heels and at 5'8, 202lbs he fit that role perfectly. He is on the smaller side but he still finds ways to gain yards after contact and would be perfect for any team looking to deploy a two-back system. He is one of the better receiving backs in this class and even with his size can hold his own in pass protection.
Below I'll discuss his vision and ability to create, his burst, his ability to finish and gain yards after contact, how well he plays in the passing game, and his ball security and ability to pass protect.
Vision/Create- Carter is on the smaller side and reminds me of a Darren Sproles type back who can be electric in the open field. Carter has an excellent ability to create. He is very shifty and elusive to make defenders miss all over the field whether it be in the backfield, in the hole, or the open field. He also has very good vision, always picking the open lane that optimizes his blocking and helps him gain the most possible yards. Being short at 5'8 helps him hide behind his blockers and leaves 2nd and 3rd level defenders having to guess where he is which opens up even more lanes.
Burst- His burst to be able to accelerate to top speed is very good and his top-end speed often allows him to outrun defenders on long runs and runs to the outside. When hitting the hole he goes full speed and has a great ability to stop and go on a dime. On outside runs, he has the burst to beat the defender's angles and turn the corner to get upfield.
Finish/YAC- Make no mistake Carter is not a power back who is going to be able to consistently run between the tackles and pound the rock down the field. He is a tough runner that fights for every yard possible though. He's shown good contact balance, with a low center of gravity to stay upright but his size keeps him from consistently being a power back and gaining a ton of yards after contact.
Passing Game- Carter is an excellent 3rd down back who can come into the game and bring in a change of pace ability to throw the defense off. He is a very good route runner out of the backfield and should be able to win one on one match-ups consistently against linebackers. He can handle the simple screens and passes behind the line of scrimmage but he can also do a lot more than that when asked to. His ability to create yards after the catch is elite as he is electric in the open field with great vision and he can consistently make plays with the ball in his hand. He isn't immune to the occasional drop though.
Blocking/Ball Security- He has only fumbled the ball one time from 2019-2020 on 379 touches so he doesn't turn the ball over or even risk the ball touching the ground. In pass protection, he is more than willing to throw his body on the line but his size could become a problem with bigger more powerful defenders who can just run right through him, especially on inside blitz's. He's best to be utilized as a chip or double team rather than sit and pick up defenders in one on one situations.
Michael Carter isn't going to be a bell-cow back who takes 20-25 touches a game in the NFL. He will be a great option for a team that likes to rotate their running backs and a team that is looking for a 3rd down back who can take 10-15 touches per game. He showed how well he can play in a complementary role next to power back and would thrive if put into that same situation.