Michael Carter - RB- UNC
The lightning to Javonte Williams’ thunder in the North Carolina backfield, we present our rookie profile of Michael Carter. Carter was a consistent presence in the UNC backfield for the past four years, and was part of a dynamic duo his junior and senior year with Javonte Williams. He provides a versatile piece in any offense, proving to be electric in both the ground game and receiving game.
Team: New York Jets
Height: 5′ 8″
Weight: 201 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.50
3-cone drill: 6.81
20-yard shuttle: 3.98
Vertical Jump: 34″
Broad Jump: 119″
Bench Press: 16
Michael Carter played a significant role for the Tar Heels early in his career. As a true freshman he was second on the team in rushing yards with over 550 yards and led the team in rushing touchdowns with 8. As a sophomore he became more efficient with less attempts but more yards, improving his yards per carry from 5.8 to 7.1. The backfield was split pretty evenly with Ohio State transfer Antonio Williams, junior running back Jordon Brown, and Michael Carter. This was also the first season we saw glimpses of Javonte Williams as he got minimal work in his true freshman season.
Then in 2019 North Carolina shook things up with new head coach Mack Brown. Brown realized what he had in Carter and Williams and made them the focal point of the running game with true freshman Sam Howell leading the passing game. Carter and Williams split carries and receptions about right down the middle and both flourished. This was Carter’s first 1000 yard rushing season, adding over 20 receptions and 150 yards through the air as well. The backfield stayed steady in the 2020 season and both backs had almost the same amount of rushes and receptions as each other, split 50/50. Carter actually led the team in rushing yards while Williams led the team in touchdowns. Carter’s 2020 performance awarded him First team All-ACC honors and AP Third-team All-American.
Carter and Williams both share very good burst at the line of scrimmage. Carter shows good hesitation and patience at the line to analyze what is in front of him and then explode past his offensive lineman. His acceleration is very impressive as he showed the ability to take a hit and get back up to full speed almost instantly. This also lends to his change of direction in how he can stop on a dime, turn his body and immediately be at top speed again going in the opposite direction. He gets his hips incredibly low, changing direction quicker than the defender can, making it look like the defender took an awful angle or got too aggressive.
While Carter didn’t test extremely well in the 40 on his pro day, on tape he showed decent break away speed that can translate to the next level. Additionally, his pass catching should quickly translate to the NFL as he is a solid third down back. He catches the ball with soft hands and runs impressive routes for a running back, naturally separating from defenders. When he gets into the open field he additionally shows off his elusiveness by making slight adjustments in his trajectory causing defenders to attempt ankle tackles instead of tackling head on. Not only does he make small adjustments, but he can also show quick lateral ability in tight areas, making defenders “miss in a phone booth”.
Carter was really solid in pass protection in flashes, but he needs to become more consistent in this area to solidify an early role as a third down back. Vision occasionally could be a concern, running too impatient at times and missing open lanes in the line or outrunning blockers. Generally he showed good patience, but this was still an area of improvement to become more consistent in. For such a compact back, Carter didn’t show great contact balance, going down with the first tackle often.
Post Draft Analysis
New York Jets: Round 4, Pick 2
Within the first couple picks of Day 3, Michael Carter goes off the board to the New York Jets with the second pick in the fourth round. The Jets are lacking a difference maker at the running back position following the failed Le’Veon Bell experiment. The organization made it apparent they are trying to surround rookie quarterback Zach Wilson with weapons. In addition to the wide receiver additions this offseason, they also brought in Tevin Coleman to share the workload with 2020 fourth round pick La’Mical Perine. After those two additions, they also have Ty Johnson on the team who showed flashes in limited playing time during the 2020 season.
For a Day 3 pick Carter walks into a fairly favorable position. There is minimal competition on the depth chart as no one is the clear cut running back one for the Jets. At this point, it looks like it will be a running back by committee mixing in Carter, Coleman, and Perine. Coleman struggled to stay healthy in 2020 and even when he played he was largely a non-factor for the 49ers. Perine also struggled to stay healthy, but when he was on the field he showed flashes here and there throughout the season. Carter has every opportunity to secure playing time early and often if he can impress this offseason. If he can secure that early playing time, he could also secure a focal role in the Jets’ young offensive core.
With the Jets investing a fourth round pick in Carter, they expect him to contribute in some fashion to their offense. They lack a true difference maker at the position and it appears that the Jets are creating a new look offense this offseason. For redraft formats, Carter could prove to be at least a usable third down back that provides nice ppr value with potential of more. He could be an effective middle to late round flier with high end to middle of the road running back two numbers if he carves out a role early. For dynasty leagues, he is part of the tier after the big three with Trey Sermon as two backs that have a path to a decent workload. While the Jets have been hard to rely on in past years, in dynasty formats Carter is going in the early to middle of the second round in rookie super flex drafts. He could provide usable production his first year and provides consistent mid to high-end running back two potential for the next few years.