Blewett’s Blitz dives into Michael Carter’s film, and it reveals that the New York Jets drafted a guy with No. 1 running back ability.
The New York Jets had a long wait after selecting Elijah Moore with the 34th pick of the 2021 NFL draft. The Jets hit offense early, addressing quarterback, guard and wide receiver. Obviously, the team decided to dish out both third-round picks to move up and select Alijah Vera-Tucker.
The Jets surely had to take defense in the fourth round, after such a long wait, right? Linebacker and cornerback were still huge needs. Jabril Cox was still on the board and was viewed as a steal by many fans if the Jets could land him at pick 107. The Jacksonville Jaguars selected defensive tackle Jay Tufele with the 106th overall pick, leaving fans sure that Cox or, at the minimum, defense, would be the pick at 107.
Wrong again, similar to the Elijah Moore pick. Instead, the Jets shocked fans and selected UNC running back Michael Carter, who was one-half of the school’s dynamic duo last season. Averaging a whopping 8.0 yards per carry on 156 carries for 1,245 yards with nine touchdowns, Carter also added 267 receiving yards and two scores on 25 receptions.
Carter joins a running back room—which, let’s be honest—was near the bottom of the league in proven talent. While Mike LaFleur’s former team, the San Francisco 49ers, never put an emphasis on running back, it’s never a bad thing to add a back who is supremely talented coming out of college and who has a ceiling of a legit No. 1 back.
It was a surprising pick, but one that’s tough to be angry over. While speaking to freshly drafted Jets rookie Zach Wilson, head coach Robert Saleh said, “This organization is going to lift you, not the other way around.” The Carter selection backs up that quote.
Carter was the final piece of the Jets offensive haul of the 2021 draft (minus UDFA’s), one in which many Jet fans said that they didn’t care about the defense. Instead, placing a premium focus on helping Wilson stood out as the top priority.
The Jets did exactly that, and while there are still holes on the Jets’ offense, they took a major step forward. They may prove to be about league average or slightly below this year, which is far better than what the Jets have produced in many years of the last decade or so.
Remember, Douglas isn’t close to done. The Jets have a lot of draft picks next year, including two firsts and two seconds, all while being a top-five team in projected cap space.
Let’s take a look at some plays showcasing Michael Carter’s major strengths and weaknesses. Below, you will also find a full list of the strengths and weaknesses and a near-two-hour video film review.
Pass game (overall blocking, routes and hands)
Carter (lined up in the backfield as the split back) runs an angle route vs. a linebacker (No. 11) who is in man coverage. Carter releases out of the backfield and closes ground towards the linebacker as he stems vertically.
Carter doesn’t look at the linebacker or ever inside, lulling the linebacker to sleep and making him believe the break will be outside. Carter pairs this with a violent “bam” step outside, selling his hips, while also widening to cut inside off of his “inn step.”
Breaking the ankles of the linebacker, he shows the quarterback his eyes and makes the reception.
Nothing flashy or overly exciting here but it’s important to note the passing game as a strength, especially if Carter wants to see the field in his rookie year.
In the above play, the defense runs a “TE” or “tex” stunt, Carter steps up as he scans the left to pick up any free rusher. Carter does so as he stays square to the line of scrimmage allowing him to work both inside and out. Carter then notices the edge “looping” inside to the A-gap.