New York Jets: Michael Carter II a possible diamond in the rough

Michael Carter II, New York Jets rookie cornerback. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Carter II, New York Jets rookie cornerback. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Jets liked the idea of drafting Michael Carter so much that they did it not once but twice in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Jets not only got a tremendous value in North Carolina running back Michael Carter, but they may have a diamond in the rough in Duke cornerback Michael Carter II.

Carter is a name to remember thanks to the first-team action he’s been getting at New York Jets OTAs…

The Jets’ draft class certainly doesn’t lack for star power. With multiple first-round picks in Zach Wilson and Alijah Vera-Tucker as well as receiver Elijah Moore and even the aforementioned running back Michael Carter, it’s understandable that Michael Carter II could get lost in the shuffle a little bit.

Carter II is a fascinating prospect with elite speed not only in the 40-yard dash but when he’s out on the field as well.

There is a huge difference between track speed and play speed, and to play in the NFL, you ideally would have both but it’s preferable to play fast, especially as a defensive back.

Although he’s not going to blow anybody away stepping off the bus at 5-foot-10, 184 pounds, Carter II has tremendous athleticism with a 4.32 in the 40-yard dash, a 35.5-inch vertical jump, and a solid 6.90 in the three-cone drill.

He showed off his versatility at Duke playing slot corner, outside corner, and safety. He started for three years and racked up 135 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 28 pass breakups, and four interceptions.

Robert Saleh’s defense really highlights speed and Carter II has a chance to be his version of perhaps what we saw from Jason Verrett last year in San Francisco given their similar size profiles.

At this point, it’s just OTAs. There’s no need to overreact to rookies getting shots to contribute but the opportunity is very clearly there with the New York Jets and Robert Saleh’s defense.

The Jets made it a point to take a bunch of shots on defensive backs with speed late in the 2021 NFL Draft and Carter has obviously been impressive early on in OTAs. With a new coaching staff, that’s of critical importance.

The Jets’ defensive backfield is not exactly loaded with elite talent or veteran players who will block a player like Carter from making an early impact, so even as a fifth-round pick, he’s got a real shot to make an impression.