New York Jets, Michael Carter II, CB, Duke, Stats
Michael Carter II, New York Jets, Getty Images

Young NY Jets cornerback Michael Carter II knows what’s going to happen in 2023

A fifth-round pick out of Duke in 2021, Michael Carter II has developed into one of the New York Jets‘ best late-round draft picks in recent memory. Carter II won New York’s starting nickel role going into Week 1 of his rookie season and has held it down across all 32 games he’s played in his two seasons as a Jet, playing solid football on a consistent basis.

But the 24-year-old has his sights set even higher.

On Thursday, Carter II took to Twitter with a bold guarantee. He posted, “Still underrated… I’ll be the best nickel in the league in ‘23 the work is gonna show”.

It’s certainly an attainable goal for the Douglasville, Georgia native. Carter II is already one of the most effective nickel corners in the NFL.

In 2022, Carter II allowed a passer rating of 81.9 when lining up in the slot, ranking fifth-best out of the 30 cornerbacks to play at least 200 snaps in slot coverage.

Since coming into the league, Carter II’s ability to minimize mistakes has been his best trait. He rarely commits back-breaking blunders.

Carter II was credited with allowing only one touchdown pass into his coverage in 2021 and he replicated that performance in 2022, giving him just two touchdowns allowed over 32 games (962 snaps in coverage). This past season, Carter ranked 10th-best out of 82 qualified cornerbacks with 0.204% of his coverage snaps resulting in an allowed touchdown (1 of 490).

Additionally, Carter II does a nice job of keeping laundry off the field, as he’s been called for only five penalties over 1,509 career snaps. That’s a penalty on 0.33% of his snaps; for reference, the league average for cornerbacks in 2022 was 0.54%.

Carter II is also active against the run. He recorded nine run stops in 2022, ranking 12th-best among cornerbacks, and he did it despite ranking 68th in snaps played against the run (225). Because of this, Carter II’s run-stop rate of 4.0% ranked fifth-best out of 99 qualified cornerbacks.

If Carter II wants to establish himself as the No. 1 nickel cornerback in football, it’s clear which area he’ll have to improve the most: splash plays.

Carter II is outstanding at preventing his opponents from making highlight-reel plays, but he’ll have to make more of his own highlight-reel plays to attract national recognition. In his career, Carter II only has two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and zero forced fumbles. He also has only one sack despite being sent as a blitzer on 49 plays.

In fairness to Carter II, he did have two interceptions this past season after posting none as a rookie, and he should have had three if not for a roughing the passer penalty that wiped out his pick-six against New England in Week 9.

But we all know how it works: The average NFL fan only looks at the box score. They see that Carter II has two career interceptions and judge him solely on that. They don’t know about Carter II’s subtle impact in the areas we discussed earlier.

Not that the average NFL fan’s opinion matters, but for Carter II to make it abundantly clear to the NFL world that he is the best nickel in the game, he’ll have to add some more big-time plays to his highlight reel – while maintaining his excellence in the areas he has already thrived.

Clearly, Carter II believes he will do just that. It’s an exciting display of confidence from one of the most talented young players on the Jets’ roster.

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at] - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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6 months ago

I like the fact that he is confident and is setting goals, but more importantly, he references putting in the work to get there.