Since he was a small boy, Andre Carter II dreamt of being selected in the NFL draft. Every step taken on his football journey has been done with that goal in mind. As an Army Cadet, there’s an obvious stumbling block in his path. However, Carter has the ability to challenge those normal restrictions. Explosive, long, and dominant at the collegiate level, Carter’s scouting report reveals an edge with early-round potential in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Andre Carter II NFL draft profile
While being an Army Cadet prepares you to face the world as a man, Carter’s journey to West Point prepared him for football success. Every step, from Temecula Vista Murrieta to Ridge Point High to Cheshire Academy, was taken with the goal of providing him with an opportunity to realize his dream of playing professional football.
In pursuit of that goal, it’s remarkable that one of the most exciting EDGE prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft class didn’t take a single defensive snap until his prep year at Cheshire.
A former wide receiver and tight end, Carter impressed coaches at Cheshire with his ability to adapt to defense instantaneously. However, his late emergence meant a lowly recruiting profile. Thankfully, the proximity to West Point opened up an opportunity to play D1 college football while gaining a top level education.
Arriving at just 220 pounds, Carter didn’t see the field in 2019. While appearing in 10 games in 2020, he caught the eye with a dominant performance against Georgia Southern with a sack, interception, and forced fumble trifecta.
That single game performance was a warning. In 2021, Carter put together a dominant campaign. His 15.5 sacks set a new Army single-season record. His 18.5 tackles for loss ranked top 10 in the nation. Meanwhile, he forced four fumbles and added a second career interception to his résumé.
The Army outside linebacker heads into his fourth year as the leading per-game sack returner in the nation and with the expectation of solidifying himself as a potential early-round 2023 NFL Draft pick.
- Position: EDGE
- School: Army
- Current Year: Senior
- Height/Weight: 6’7′, 260 pounds
Andre Carter II scouting report
It’s easy to get carried away by college football production, and Carter sure has plenty of that. However, when conducting a scouting report it’s important to understand how that production has been achieved. More importantly, you have to understand how that translates to the NFL level.
When evaluating the Army EDGE, you also have to understand that the skill set has to dramatically outweigh the eligibility issues that accompany service-academy prospects. It’s apparent early in his scouting report, that Carter’s skill set does.
Size isn’t everything, but it certainly helps. The 6’7″, 260-pound EDGE is instantly recognizable on film and is an imposing prospect to line up against. Remarkably, Carter arrived at West Point at just 220 pounds, having played WR and TE predominantly early in his career. That physical development is impressive, and Carter has the frame to support even more muscle mass as he develops from a college prospect to NFL player.
His size is weaponized by impressive length. The Army EDGE has long arms that he uses to make first contact at the point of attack. He’s able to long arm offensive linemen with this natural advantage, keeping his opponent away from his frame. Meanwhile, Carter’s combination of length and size enable him to pose a coverage threat. He’s able to clog up passing lanes and make an impact on the ball in the passing game. Meanwhile, he’s able to use his long limbs to wrap up as a tackler or force the ball out from the ball carrier.
As his production would suggest, Carter poses a significant pass-rushing threat. It’s clearly the better element of his game. In addition to his size and length advantage, he already possesses some pass-rush weapons in his arsenal. Carter deploys a successful rip move with disturbing regularity, and that is comfortably his go to move. However, he’s also shown to utilize a spin move to overcome blocks.
There is some development to come in terms of power production from Carter’s lower half, yet the 2023 NFL Draft EDGE prospect does showcase some strength in his hands. In the games studied, Carter was able to visibly shock his opponent on contact. He also used a combination of quick and powerful hands to disengage from blocks and continue his route to the quarterback.
While his size, length, and developing arsenal of pass-rush tools are impressive, Carter’s scouting report is made even more tantalizing by his athletic prowess. For his size, he possesses an elite athletic profile. In an era where NFL teams are willing to bet on athletic traits with the ability to coach in the pass-rush toolbox, Carter puts himself in an excellent position to be one of the stars of the 2023 NFL Draft class.
Players at 6’7″ simply shouldn’t possess his level of explosion, speed, and change-of-direction capability. Primarily rushing from a two-point stance from the 6-tech alignment on either side of the line, you can see Carter almost revving up for the snap with a twitchy back foot that is screaming to be unleashed. When the ball is snapped, the Army EDGE explodes out of his stance with an excellent first step and is routinely beyond his man and into the backfield before the tackle even realizes his lunch money has gone.
In addition to his explosive first step, Carter has great straight-line speed for his size. He recorded a 4.7 40-yard dash at 6’6″ and 225 pounds in high school, and I’d be willing to bet a sizable chunk of change that he could match or better that time at his current mass. Carter puts this to good use both as a rusher but also in pursuit when required.
While he’s not an elite lateral athlete compared to some of his 2023 NFL Draft pass-rush contemporaries, for his size, Carter possesses excellent change-of-direction ability. He’s able to effortlessly flip his pass-rush trajectory, attacking the outside track before shifting his feet and weight to terrorize from the interior. This is also evident in Carter’s ability to drop back into coverage with some fluidity, and in some of his plays against the run game — particularly against option offenses such as Air Force.
Those occasions also help evidence Carter’s patience and football intelligence. He’s able to read and react to option plays, making several impressive contributions close to the quarterback during the Air Force game. In this, he showcases a patience not to fly to the QB, but to allow the play to develop and put himself in the best position to succeed. While he’s able to play with patience, Carter has a relentless “to-the-whistle” approach that smacks of a competitive toughness forged by his military-academy environment.
Carter’s areas of improvement
Carter has genuine 2023 NFL Draft potential. In a class headlined by Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr., the Army EDGE can make a name for himself. However, there are areas of improvement on Carter’s scouting report. Additionally, there is one issue that can’t be avoided that hangs over his head, threatening to limit his ascension potential as a genuine NFL prospect.
Let’s begin with that. We don’t scout the helmet. A player has the potential to outperform historical tendencies and go where no player from his program has gone before. However, the eligibility requirements of the Army means that any team that selects Carter in the 2023 NFL Draft may not be able to play him for some time. As a result, no Army player has been drafted since 2008, and only one other player has been drafted since the 1960s. It’s a significant roadblock that Carter has to overcome.
On the field, Carter’s size has some disadvantages. The Army EDGE tends to rush with an upright style that makes his chest an easy target for offensive linemen. While his length can mitigate this, it’s still an area of concern. Furthermore, his higher center of gravity means that he’s more easily taken to the ground than smaller EDGE players are. There were several instances on film where Carter lost his footing coming around the outside track.
At this moment, Carter is a pass-rush-specific prospect who needs to showcase development in the run game. Despite showing some power potential in his upper body, his slender lower half doesn’t lend itself to setting the edge in the ground game. Although he’s showcased patience as a pass rusher, he often gets too far up the field against the run, taking himself out of the equation from a run-stuffing perspective.
As ridiculous as it sounds, Carter had the potential to be even more productive last fall. There were some snaps where he was a day late and a dollar short to the quarterback, resulting in big yardage plays. A more refined pass-rush plan, adding combos and more moves to his armory, will help him to be even more successful at getting to the QB.
Current draft projection for Army EDGE Andre Carter II
Let’s, for a second, remove the elephant in the room that is his eligibility concerns and summarize Carter as we would any other 2023 NFL Draft prospect. He projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker who can excel in pass-rush situations early in his NFL career. While there are clear development points, the fact that he’s entering only his fifth season playing defensive football would suggest he has the ability to continue to elevate his game.
With this growth potential coupled with the already alluring size, speed, and explosion ability, Carter should be considered a Day 2 prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft. The question is, how much will an NFL team be willing to take a gamble on a player that might not be able to play football for them immediately?
The Army EDGE has taken every step to ensure he’s reached this point of his career successfully. It would be a foolish man to bet against him doing everything it takes to be a success in the NFL for years to come.