The New York Jets’ focus on offense continued at the start of Round 4 of the 2021 NFL Draft, which began shortly after noon today as they used today’s second pick and 107th overall to take North Carolina running back Michael Carter. It was the Jets’ fourth offensive player they have selected in their first four picks.
Coming after Jets tab QB Zach Wilson and Olympics Alijah Vera-Tucker in Round 1 on Thursday and WR Elijah Moore in Round 2 on Friday, the jets have taken four offensive players to start a draft for the first time in 38 years, or when they took QB Ken O̵
And like the three-leaf clover selected by the Jets before him this week, Carter is happy to be wearing the green and white.
“It’s a dream come true,” he told Jets reporters. “I had a feeling all along that I should be in New York or New Jersey, I think. But I’m just excited to be a Jet.
“Just the appreciation, the interest they had in me,” he said of why he had that feeling. “I feel like it was like a match made.”
Carter, who measured one-eighth of an inch shy of 5-8 and 200 pounds on UNC’s pro day, stood tall as the starter for heels and earned a team captain last year as a true senior. He had 1,000 rushing yards for the second straight season and finished with 1,245 yards on 156 carries (8.0 yards / carry) and 9 touchdowns, adding 267 yards and two more TDs on 25 catches (10.7 yards / catch) .
Carter averaged 113.2 scrimmage yards / game last year compared to Williams’ 103.6 yards / game. He was named the All-ACC first team and All-America third team, after which he had a good week at the Senior Bowl.
In his UNC career, Carter played in 44 games (24 starts), had 514 carries for 3,404 yards and 6 touchdowns and caught 82 passes for 656 yards and six TDs. He is the fourth tar heel to darken 3,400 rushing farms in his career and set school records for most yards / carriers in a game (12.8), season (8.0) and career (6.6). He also averaged 20.3 yards on 32 career kickoff returns.
He describes his running style in a few words before elaborating on the analysis.
“Explosive … funny,” he said. “I try to score every time I get rock. I love having fun when I play football. It’s a fun game. It’s something that can change your life.
Carter is also familiar with the wide zone offensive scheme installed by head coach Robert Saleh and coordinator Mike LaFleur.
“I think my change of direction and stop-start ability complements their system well,” he said. “I’ve been running pretty much the wide zone since I was born, so it comes naturally to me. We ran a lot of it in college. Even in high school I did it, even in youth football I did it. So I’m very familiar with that. “
North Carolina HC Mack Brown, serves as something of an nfl.com draft analyst on Tar Heels’ pro day, has compared Carter and backfield buddy Javonte Williams to Southern Cal’s Reggie Bush and LenDale White from 2004-05 “because of their yardage. I would say they need to strengthen it to make sure they live. up to that level of expectation.But both are great people, they stayed healthy, they did not turn the ball around, they can block, they can catch, they are smart, they are really good in space, but powerful enough to run inside. Javonte runs over you and Michael has the patience they are both guaranteed NFL backs.
Carter becomes the ninth Tar Heel drafted by the Jets in franchise history. The highest and most recent was the DE Quinton Coples (Round 1, No. 16 overall, 2012), playing 56 games and making 32 starts as Jet. The last four UNC players drafted by the Jets played for Green & White: LB / ST Eddie Mason in 1995, DT Rick Terry and RB / KR Leon Johnson in 1997 and the Coples.