Rookie Rundown: RB Michael Carter, North Carolina

Rookie Rundown: RB Michael Carter, North Carolina

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Rookie Rundown: RB Michael Carter, North Carolina

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Here’s the other half of the 1-2 punch of the Tarheel’s backfield for the last two seasons. Combined with Javonte Williams, Michael Carter rushed for over 1,000 yards in both 2019 and 2020. And both are expected to be drafted in the first three rounds.

As a senior at Navarre High School in Florida, Carter totaled 3,345 all-purpose yards and 45 total touchdowns as the USA Today Florida Offensive Player of the Year.

Carter was the No. 2 back for his first two seasons at North Carolina and then paired with Williams for a dominating backfield as a junior and senior. He was the No. 1 back in 2019 and then almost perfectly split the workload with Williams in 2020.

The final game of last season was against Miami. The duo combined for 544 rushing yards to set the all-time NCAA record for two running backs in a single game. Carter contributed 308 yards on 24 carries in that matchup for his ninth career game with over 100 yards. Despite the split backfield, Carter still turned in at least 16 carries in over half his games last year.

Height: 5-8
Weight: 190 pounds
40 time: 4.50 seconds

Carter opted out of the 2021 Orange Bowl to prepare for the NFL draft. While his teammate Williams is expected to be a first- or second-round pick, Carter is more likely to be a second- or third-round selection. He’s smaller at only 5-8, 190 pounds, while Williams is 5-10, 220 pounds. That makes a more significant difference in the NFL.

Running Back Michael Carter, North Carolina Stats (2017-2020)

Year Games Runs Yards Avg. TD Catch Yards. TD Total Yards Total TDs
2017 11 97 559 5.8 8 11 100 1 659 9
2018 9 84 597 7.1 2 25 135 1 732 3
2019 13 177 1003 5.7 3 21 154 2 1157 5
2020 11 156 1245 8.0 9 25 267 2 1512 11

Pros

  • Versatile rusher, receiver and blocker
  • Quick, creative rusher
  • Excellent vision
  • Smaller size helps get lost to second-level defenders
  • Solid route runner
  • Mismatch for linebackers to cover
  • Elusive in space
  • Plays tough despite size, physical when needed
  • Can return kicks and punts
  • Patient runner

Cons

  • Lack of size limits inside effectiveness
  • Projects as a situational or rotational back in the NFL
  • Quicker than fast, lacks upper gear
  • Benefitted from a great offensive line

Fantasy outlook

Carter is expected to join a committee backfield where he can become a part of the rotation – as he did in college. He finished with 82 receptions at North Carolina and should find at least a niche as a third-down back in the NFL. He was very productive with the ball in college, but at least part of that success came due to the quality of his blocking in a dominating Tarheel’s rush attack that created two “full-time” backs.

Dropping back to the second round, or more likely the third, he’ll be available to all teams looking to add to their backfield. Carter may not become a workhorse, but he can offer a valuable situational role. That fits with the style of offense that is popular in the current NFL.

The further he falls in the draft, the less likely he is a fantasy factor as a rookie. But if he is taken in the first three rounds by a team with an incomplete backfield, he’ll merit stashing on fantasy rosters.

He’ll most likely be a consideration for the Cardinals, Falcons, Broncos, Dolphins, Patriots, Jets, and Steelers.

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