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NFL Draft 2021: The curious case of Michael Carters

The New York Jets dip into the well twice in their search of difference-makers named “Michael Carter.”

NCAA Football: Syracuse at North Carolina Pool Photo

When you’re the New York Jets, you’re used to starting all over. In this year’s NFL Draft, their task was made clearer than usual after the Jets traded their starting quarterback Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers. With Trevor Lawrence locked in to Jacksonville before the draft, all other options were open to the second team of New York. A slew of top-tier quarterbacks with various question marks accompanying them jockeyed for the second overall pick.

The Jets ended up going with BYU quarterback Zach Wilson. To ensure he had a fighting chance at immediate success, New York took the top-graded offensive guard in the draft, USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker, later in the first round. In the second round, they selected Ole Miss receiver Elijah Moore, a man whose dog-pee touchdown celebration unintentionally altered the fabric of college football in the state of Mississippi.

The Jets would have to wait until Saturday to make their next pick, and boy were they fortunate that UNC running back Michael Carter was available. Tar Heel fans know that Carter has a well-rounded game and can become an instant weapon for Zach Wilson and the Jets offense. He can run, catch the swing pass, catch over his shoulder, make defenders miss, and — when necessary — lower the boom.

One of his new teammates can attest to that personally.

In the fifth round, New York drafted another Michael Carter, this one a defensive back from Duke. New York is definitely a pro-town, and many Jets fans may not regularly tune into college football, especially ACC football. Tar Heel alum and ESPN/ACCN employee Bryan Ives was kind enough to Tweet an instance where the two Michael Carters collided during this past season’s destruction of Duke in Durham.

Now, Michael Carter was a fine safety in college. He was more of a centerfielder than an extra man in the box. Michael Carter (Duke) is relatively slight (5’10” 184 lbs) and that lack of size was evident on his ill-timed goal line stand against Michael Carter (UNC).

It’ll be interesting to see where the Jets put defensive back Michael Carter on the field. They drafted two other pure cornerbacks (Pitt’s Jason Pinnock and Kentucky’s Brandin Echols), so it stands to reason Carter will play safety or nickel.

Similarly, UNC’s Michael Carter could show up all over the place on offense. He can stand behind or next to the quarterback for hand-offs, split wide to catch flairs and screens, or he can run routes and burn slower linebackers. He’ll have to calm himself in practice though, to make sure he doesn’t truck the other Michael Carter off the main roster.