Following an impressive performance at Duke’s Pro Day, Blue Devils safety Michael Carter II is receiving Day 3 projections in the 2021 NFL Draft. Can his versatility and athleticism help him land a spot on an NFL roster?
Michael Carter II NFL Draft Player Profile
- Position: Safety
- School: Duke
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 5’9 1/2″
- Weight: 186 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Michael Carter II Scouting Report
Positives: Versatile defensive back who plays aggressive football. Instinctive, quickly picks up coverage assignments and works hard to defend throws. Physical, mixes it up with receivers and has a nice move to the ball out of his plant. Possesses a terrific burst to the action, fires up the field defending the run, and does not back down to a challenge. Plays to his 40 time and stays downfield with opponents.
Negatives: Used more as a safety last season and primarily faced the action. Not a big corner and gets overmatched. Must do a better job getting his head back around and making plays with his back to the ball.
Analysis: Carter was a solid defensive back at Duke and possesses the speed, athleticism, and ball skills to line up in dime packages on Sundays.
Michael Carter II Player Profile
The son of a baseball standout at the University of New Orleans, Carter enjoyed his own dazzling career on the diamond at South Paulding High School. Even as a senior playing football, he earned All-Region honors for baseball.
On top of his ability with a glove or bat in his hand, Carter excelled on the football field from a young age. As a high school sophomore, he logged 35 tackles for South Paulding before experiencing a breakout junior campaign. He set high school career highs for tackles (78) and tackles for loss (10) while snagging an interception.
Having earned first-team All-County and All-Region honors, he was rated as a three-star recruit. 247 Sports ranked him as the 55th safety in the 2017 recruiting cycle. Attracting offers from teams including North Carolina, Ole Miss, and Georgia State, Carter committed to Duke prior to his senior season.
Carter’s college football career at Duke
Carter finished his high school career as the County Defensive Player of the Year before arriving at Duke to play safety in 2017. He made an immediate impact, playing in 12 games while earning starts against Wake Forest and Northern Illinois. Carter contributed 18 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2 pass breakups, and the first sack of his career against Baylor as Duke ranked as the third-best scoring defense in the ACC.
He continued to impress as a playmaker in his sophomore season. He led the team with 6 pass breakups. Additionally, he displayed versatility by switching from safety to play cornerback in relief of injured starter Mark Gilbert against Northwestern. In a standout game, he made his first career interception.
Carter was awarded the Willis Aldridge Award as Duke’s best defensive back following his sophomore year performance, an honor he repeated as a junior. He displayed durability — playing the most snaps on the team — while further demonstrating versatility as a kick returner. He also continued to be a playmaker in the secondary. Carter snagged a second career interception against Notre Dame and registered 8 pass breakups.
After earning team honors for two straight seasons, the Duke safety was finally recognized nationally in his senior season. Following a year where he featured in the ACC top-10 for passes defended, he received third-team All-ACC merits. Demonstrating leadership as a team captain, Carter enjoyed the most productive season of his career. He logged 41 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, and 8 pass breakups.
Following the conclusion of the season, he declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. Carter received invites to the NFLPA Bowl and NFL Combine. At the Duke Pro Day, the safety demonstrated his speed, setting a 4.30 40-yard dash time that headlined an excellent outing.
Michael Carter II’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Although he has experience of playing cornerback and safety for Duke, Carter best projects to play inside at the NFL level. However, his versatility to play multiple positions will prove attractive for teams. As will his athletic profile, with his speed making him one of the fastest players in the class. He combines his athleticism with physicality. Still, his smaller frame may concern NFL teams.
Some teams who could address a need at safety in the 2021 NFL Draft include the Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens, Minnesota Vikings, and the Las Vegas Raiders.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft analyst and staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.