2021 NFL Draft Profile: RB Michael Carter
Despite sharing a backfield with Javonte Williams – another running back prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft – Carter put together a fantastic 2020 campaign. He averaged eight yards per carry this season while also tacking on 25 receptions out of the backfield. He’s an explosive athlete that complimented Williams’ bruising style of play extremely well.
The NFL is looking for more and more of these complimentary receiving options in their backfield rotations nowadays. Players like Nyheim Hines, J.D. McKissic, Tarik Cohen, etc., have made their mark on the game through their ability to not only come onto the field and take some pressure off of the main back but also by being a versatile chess piece.
Carter might not have the frame to necessarily handle a sizable workload in the NFL, but he can still make an impact for fantasy football with his receiving prowess and athletic traits. It’s all about an NFL coach giving him that role on a consistent basis.
Who does he play like in today’s NFL, though? Will he be drafted highly enough in the NFL Draft to make an impact for fantasy football?
These questions are answered here in our scouting profile on Carter:
Michael Carter, North Carolina
Weight: 201 lbs.
Arms: 29 1/8
Hands: 8 3/4
40-Yard Dash: 4.50
Vertical Jump: 34
Broad Jump: 119
Bench: 16 Reps
Short Shuttle: 3.98
3-Cone Drill: 6.81
Skills Breakdown (out of 100)
Vision (77): Carter’s a dynamic running back that will excel in a change-of-pace or complementary role in an NFL backfield. He’s a smart runner that has fantastic footwork as he approaches the line of scrimmage. Once he has identified his running lane, he is extremely decisive and explodes through with acceleration. He’s often used to stretch the field to either side as a complement to Javonte Williams’ in-between the tackles running, but he is able to navigate and find his way for positive yardage frequently in that capacity as well.
Burst (80): Has some of the best acceleration in this draft class. Able to break angles on defenders due to his start/stop ability and burst. As mentioned before, he’s able to find his running lane and explode through it with ridiculous speed.
Change of Direction (78): Fantastic lateral mobility. Able to move laterally and still maintain his full momentum. Able to still maintain his balance through changing direction and then explode vertically.
Power (72): As a smaller back, he’s not going to drive any NFL defenders backwards. However, that doesn’t mean that he’s not willing to embrace contact. Consistently lowers his shoulder to try and pick up the additional yard or two.
Speed (78): Tremendous top-end speed, and if he finds an inch of green grass, he’s going to take advantage of it. Doesn’t have the true top-end speed to house every single breakaway play but will be able to pick up chunk plays for an offense consistently, whether it’s a run or reception.
Contact Balance (76): Good contact balance. It’s not his best trait, but he’s certainly able to break loose from tackles occasionally and keep churning. Due to his size, if he’s hit hard by a defender, it’s usually too much momentum that forces him down to the ground, but if a defender is trying to wrap up his legs from behind, he’s able to typically break free.
Pass Catching (78): Solid pass-catcher out of the backfield. Does have a few drops on his tape, but these could’ve also been due to Sam Howell firing them in at max velocity when they didn’t need to be. However, he can certainly be a dual-threat player. Good route-runner out of the backfield too. Able to set up linebackers on choice routes or get upfield quickly on wheel routes.
Pass Protection (69): As a smaller back, pass protection is one of Carter’s downfalls, but that doesn’t mean that he’s unwilling to engage. He’s best utilized out of the backfield as another read, though, rather than staying back in to block a blitzing LB.
When studying RBs, one trait I value highly is quick/constant feet.
Michael Carter displays that here. He is able to cut/juke w/o losing momentum or wasted motions.
His feet are quick & connected to his eyes. If his eyes land on the lane, his feet usually carry him to it. pic.twitter.com/fwEQsA9Szl
– Damian Parson ???? (@DP_NFL) December 24, 2020
Two key traits on display here for Michael Carter:
1. Start/Stop Ability.
2. Lateral Mobility.
Excellent job making something out of nothing because of his proficiencies in those two areas. pic.twitter.com/2VoxCDNgu7
– Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) January 28, 2021
They Said It
Projected Draft Range
Carter’s role as a receiving back or complementary option is going to push his value down NFL draft boards, but his talent is worthy of a top-50 selection.
Ideal Fantasy Landing Spot
James Robinson appears to be entrenched as the starter in Jacksonville at the time of writing, but the Jaguars front office needs to add a complementary piece to take some of the pressure off of the young back. Carter would slide in perfectly as the receiving back in this offense as a “lightning” to Robinson’s “thunder.”
As far as skillset, height, weight, and athletic testing numbers, it’s hard to look elsewhere other than Nyheim Hines. Hines fills a receiving down role for the Indianapolis Colts, and he’s nearly an identical size to Carter. They both have tremendous burst in the open field and should succeed in the NFL in the same way.