Active run defender with nice speed and range there. Likes to throw his weight around and will deliver a hit to receiver over the middle. Shows some pop and hitting power as a tackler. Will break down and make stop in the open field. Is comfortable coming up in the box and defending the run there. Shows good upfield burst to come from free safety position as well with nice closing burst on the ball. Has a nice backpedal and decent hips when working in man coverage against the tight end. Shows some burst out of his breaks to break on the ball and break up the pass. Shows ability in centerfield as well as working in Cover-2, able to keep things in front of him.
Is an undersized tackler, and ducks his head too much looking to deliver hit, but can lead to missed stops. Other times will tackle too high. Not as effective a tackler against bigger defenders and can have difficulty dragging down guys. Will miss stops because he looks for the hit. WIll take some bad angles to the ball in the open field. Can be a bit overaggressive in coverage, biting on play fakes and giving up the big play. Lets receivers get behind him at times and may not be a guy you want to count on in the clutch to make a play in coverage. Can draw some flags when working in man coverage against the tight end, grabbing the defender to make a play on the ball.
Carter is an aggressive, hard-hitting free safety that is probably a bit more comfortable working in the box and defending the run than playing in coverage. He has the tools to get better in coverage, but doesn't have the great ballhawking skills most teams are looking for at free safety. Instead, he's more of an undersized strong safety. Isn't asked to cover a lot in man coverage because of Nelson at the other safety spot and he may not do that as well at the next level despite flashing the tools to do so. He was listed at 195 pounds going into his senior year, but has bulked up in the 210-pound range is ideal for him. A two-year starter that combined for 184 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 8 interceptions, and 11 pass breakups in those two years at free safety.
Carter has skills to compete as a starting safety at the next level, but he's not a guy that is great in coverage as he'll give up some big plays. He's good in run support, but he'll miss some stops as well. But he has the potential to both well enough where he'll contribute more positive than negative. I don't like the fact that he'll duck his head as a tackler, which can lead to missed stops and potential penalties due to the new crackdown on leading with the crown of your head. It's also potentially dangerous for him. He can play either safety position, but I think he's probably a better fit playing strong safety where he won't have to cover as many receivers and won't be as responsible for things in coverage. The ideal scheme for him is playing in a Cover-2 heavy scheme, where the safeties tend to be much more interchangeable. He should become a capable starter, but I don't see him being a guy that is a key piece of a team's defense. He's more of a complementary safety that if he plays with another good safety, he'll be good. But he's not a guy that I'd want being my top safety or the quarterback of my defense. The player I would compare him to is someone like Chris Hope, who was a decent starter in Pittsburgh at free safety, but has come into his own as a strong safety in Tennessee. He's not one of the best safeties in the league and certainly has contributed to some of the struggles Tennessee's secondary has had over the years. But for the most part he gets the job done.
Carter could compete with DeCoud at the free safety position, but is not a strong bet to win that competition. And while he's bigger safety, they are about even in terms of their ability to make plays in run support. Carter might be slightly better because he's bigger now, but they are about the same. Carter might be a little more polished in coverage coming out than DeCoud was three years ago, but he doesn't really have the coverage ability or run-supporting skills to think he is a significant upgrade. In Atlanta, Carter would be a good insurance policy and solid No. 3 safety because he can play either spot in their scheme. He would give the team an option at free safety in case the team didn't re-sign DeCoud after the season and then could be a starter.
Carter is worth a late third or fourth round pick in a stronger draft class, but because of the lack of talent near the top, he probably gets pushed up into the early third or possibly late second round.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Ball Skills: 3.0
Scouting reports of the safeties in the 2011 Draft.
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