When you talk versatility, you think of defensive backs who play safety and corner. Or wide receivers who play the boundary, slot and can be featured in the return game. What is not thought about too often is the defensive line. Sure, there are guys that get thrown all over their team’s lines. However, they are always stuck in one spot. Florida’s Zachary Carter is a bit different. This is a player who really doesn’t have a set position. He bounces from inside to out so often, and it is impressive to watch. Carter’s versatility will certainly be something that NFL teams are drawn to. The question is whether the rest of his game matches up.
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Name: Zachary Carter
Jersey: No. 6
Position: Defensive Lineman
Weight: 282 lbs
Games Watched: South Florida (2021), Alabama (2021), Florida State (2021)
Major Injury History: None
Block Shedding (11/15)
From wherever he is, Carter does well to shed blocks. There are times when you would like him not to be so stuck, but he makes up for it easily on the next play. We see this more on the outside where Carter makes an impact, though the inside is not bad, either. He knows how to do everything he can to get out of a guard’s grasp and try to create a play to get to the ball carrier.
Strength at LOS (11/15)
282 pounds is a serious concern for anyone trying to play on the interior in the NFL. Against South Florida, Carter did a great job of staying balanced, keeping his ground, and creating space for others. This carried into the other two games against higher competition, however, Carter got put on his back a lot more in these games. Against Alabama, he got folded by a double-team on the first play. He then bounced back and kept his strength functional enough to allow his linebackers to make a play.
Pass Rush (12.5/15)
Obviously, Carter is going to have a leg up in this area over other defensive tackles because of the experience outside. He racked up 13.5 sacks in a two-and-a-half year playing career at Florida. This statistic alone is pretty impressive, then you watch some plays he makes on film, and it’s even better. Carter has a very strong bull rush for someone so light. He has nice technique with his dip-and-rip. From a general standpoint, all the tools are there for Carter to be a successful pass-rusher from wherever he plays at the next level.
Carter doesn’t necessarily take plays off, more so just gets beat on some reps. What you do like about him is his ability to bounce back and make a play. Going up against those Alabama studs, he did struggle but was able to pick up and create some sort of impact on multiple reps throughout the game. The constant effort will be a big bonus in the eyes of NFL scouts when regarding Carter’s draft stock.
This is the area where Carter differs in play, most depending on position. On the edge, he has actually pushed back tackles to the point of them nearly being backed into the quarterback. This has happened multiple times and is a very attractive trait for Carter. Inside, he doesn’t create that same push. Still, the Tampa, FL native does not get pushed back, however, there’s no real drive into the backfield. If Carter is going to play as a 9-tech in the NFL, he will need heavier hands, more explosion, and more functional strength to drive people backwards.
Length Usage (9/10)
Length usage is clearly Carter’s best trait. He does so well to extend those long arms, keep tackles at a distance, and shed the block with ease. While this has come primarily on the outside, Carter has been able to use his length in a different way inside. He will finagle his way between the guards, go nearly horizontal, and still create a mean bull rush. All the while, he is using the arms to stay pretty far and not get sucked in, which results in a positive play.
While Carter does have an 8.08 raw athletic score, there are problems here. Namely, explosiveness. In the film (and in some testing), The Florida alum is just not explosive enough to have continued success at the next level. He got by in Gainesville, but this is going to come back to bite him early in his career. It has been historically hard for these types of versatile guys to see success on the defensive line in the NFL if they do not have explosiveness, so Carter is fighting an uphill battle here.
Football IQ (7/10)
There is nothing overly impressive about Carter’s football IQ. He is not the quickest to react to the snap. Pair that with a lack of explosiveness and there’s cause for concern. What Carter does do well is diagnose the gaps in which to shoot. He always knows his assignment and finds the correct lineman to occupy when coming in on twists and stunts.
With Carter, it’s all about versatility. He projects well as a pass-rusher at the next level too, but his ability to play anywhere is what will get him drafted earlier than others. The big issue is the explosiveness. This needs to increase (and fast) if Carter wants a fighting chance at early reps in the NFL. It’s likely that he goes early on Day 3. However, if he were to sneak into the back half of the third round, there would be no complaints about that on this end. For the future, Carter projects as a high-end rotational guy who may be able to turn into a starter if he becomes more explosive.
Rookie Projection: Rotational Defensive Lineman
Third-Year Projection: High-End Rotational Defensive Lineman
Player Grade (76.25/100): Fourth Round
Pro Comparison: Jalyn Holmes
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