The NFL Combine has always provided prospects a chance to significantly raise their stock through various workouts. That won’t be the case this year due to COVID-19, but fans should still expect Duke defensive back Michael Carter II to soar up team’s draft boards.
Carter showcased his versatility throughout his career with the Blue Devils. It didn’t matter if he was lined up on the outside or in the slot, he made a ton of plays for his coaching staff.
During his final season at Duke, the 5-foot-11 defensive back had 41 total tackles, eight passes defended and two interceptions.
In addition to being one of the Blue Devils’ top playmakers this past fall, Carter was voted a team captain. Although he doesn’t have the biggest frame, the Georgia native plays with a lot of heart.
We sat down with Michael Carter II to talk about his career at Duke, his expectations for his pro day, which defensive backs he watches on film, and much more.
The Spun: Looking back at your Duke career, how would you assess the way it went?
Michael Carter II: I definitely cherish that time for sure and appreciate it. Being there I got to build relationships with the coaches, make friends both on and off the field, and had professors that helped me get my degree. Also, I’m appreciative of all the lessons I learned at one of the highest levels in college and being able to elevate my game to a higher level every season.
Michael had an illustrious career on and off the field at Duke. In 2020, as the starting safety and team captain, Michael earned All-ACC honors.
— Element Sports Group (@element_sports) January 13, 2021
The Spun: What’s your greatest asset at this stage in your career?
MC: The greatest asset is definitely my versatility and ability to adapt and pick up things fast. Just thinking about how I was used at Duke – I was being game planned to start at a position all week and wouldn’t even practice outside corner, but mid-game I’d have to shift over to that role and learn things on the fly. So I’d have to learn what they may have went over during the week in less than five minutes. So my versatility, ability to learn fast and never get flustered are my best traits.
The Spun: You’re a versatile defensive back. Which players in the NFL do you watch on film?
MC: I definitely like to watch DBs who are similar to myself, whether it’s their body type, mindset or way they play. The guys that always come to mind for me are Budda Baker, Tyrann Mathieu, Kenny Moore and Jaire Alexander. Budda Baker and Tyrann Mathieu have that dog mentality, always giving 100 percent effort and having the versatility to play in the box or cover in the slot. Kenny Moore, looking at him and how physical he plays, he uses his size to his advantage to make plays. He’s a freaky athlete who always makes an impact every Sunday. Moving over to the outside, whenever I might be thrust to that role, Jaire Alexander is on the smaller size for a prototypical cornerback, but nobody looks at him as lesser than others. He’s an elite cornerback and is always facing the top guy every week, and he has that “size doesn’t matter” mentality. If you can play, you can play.
Michael Carter II was essentially used like Kenny Moore II in the Duke defense. Mostly played slot corner but also rotated to deep safety and even played some outside corner too. Dude just made a lot of plays. Really like his game so far pic.twitter.com/otaVtnc6Xf
— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) February 2, 2021
The Spun: What’s your mindset on the field?
MC: My mindset when I step on the field is I’m going to do everything in my ability to make sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to do right to help the team. And then individually, my mindset is I’m going to win every rep, every route, and dominate the guy in front of me. That’s just how I think. It’s like a switch flips when I’m on the field and that dog just takes over. Whoever is in front of me, I believe I’m the best and I won’t be outshined in any way.
The Spun: Who was the best quarterback you went up against in the ACC?
MC: I faced Trevor Lawrence his freshman. year. He was really good and he got better and better every year as he got more comfortable in his system. Another guy who I saw more so often [than Lawrence] was Sam Howell. Both of them have a strong arm, are accurate downfield, and move guys around with their eyes. They definitely play at an elite level.
The Spun: I know the NFL Combine is different this year, but what was your reaction to getting the invite?
MC: I was definitely super excited and happy that all my hard work I put in over the years and just that dream I had ever since I was young to make it to this point was coming to realization. I finally accomplished this goal, but I still have many more I want to accomplish. I was excited in the moment and I’m still happy I got that invite. Sadly there’s no Combine but I got my pro day so I’m excited for that. We used to say ‘Never too high, never too low.’ Good things happen, and that invite was a highlight of my day, but I still have to go to work and get better at the little things.
Next step to joining the #DukeInTheNFL fam 😤
— Duke Football (@DukeFOOTBALL) March 2, 2021
The Spun: What are you hoping to show at your pro day?
MC: I’m hoping to show my explosiveness in and out of breaks. Agility wise, I want to show my ability to move and flip my hips smoothly. I also want to show I have good ball skills, I’m fast and powerful throughout my whole body. Just want to show I’m on the smaller size, but I’m built for whatever the league throws out me.
The Spun: You were a captain at Duke. How important is that leadership role to you?
MC: It was definitely important for me to be a captain and have that support from my teammates that they felt like they could depend on me to guide them in the right direction. I really felt honored to be voted a captain by my peers. It really means a lot to me to show people how to do things the right way and the habits that everyone should have on the football field, whether that’s running on and off the field or running to the ball when it’s in the air. Just being able to showcase that and bring up the younger guys the way I was brought up was great.
The Spun: What do you think will be going through your head if you get drafted?
MC: I’m sure there will be a lot going through my head – excitement, anxious. I’ll definitely enjoy that moment for a little bit, but then I have to get my mind mentally prepared to go to work and understand this is my profession and job. I’ll still have fun with it, but there will be a lot going through my head. I can’t even really put it into words how I’d feel if I get selected in April. I’m just looking forward to it and what God has in store for me.
— Element Sports Group (@element_sports) March 4, 2021
Michael Carter II is hoping to put the NFL world on notice during his pro day on March 29. Current draft projections have him as a fringe Day 3 prospect, but that could change in the blink of an eye.
Even in the event that Carter doesn’t hear his name called during the NFL Draft, he could carve out a path to success just like Kenny Moore.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.