CB Alex Carter (Stanford) - Round 3, Pick No. 80
The Detroit Lions flipped over to the defensive side of the ball in the third round by trading up eight spots to get Stanford's Alex Carter. When the trade was first announced, most figured the Lions were targeting a defensive tackle, but they decided to address the cornerback position instead.
Height: 6-foot-0 | Weight: 196 pounds
2012: 46 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 1 PD, 3 FF
2013: 59 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1 INT, 8 PD, 1 FF
2014: 41 tackles, 1 INT, 9 PD, 1 FF
Carter's father goes way back with Lions general manager Martin Mayhew:
Martin Mayhew has known Alex Carter's dad, Tom, for 20 years. Carter replaced Mayhew in Washington's starting lineup— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) May 2, 2015
What the experts are saying
Alex Carter is an intelligent and ambitious kid who has the physical traits to play either cornerback or safety in the NFL. He's a raw product who needs a lot of work, but I fully expect that in a few years, this coaching staff will be able to develop and turn him into their Rashean Mathis replacement.
Carter needs to work on his deep coverage, an area where he has struggled at times on The Farm, letting receivers getting too much separation off of the line and being forced to play catch-up. He'll mostly avoid that flaw in zone coverage, but it's still something that's holding him back. Despite his underrated potential in a zone scheme and above average measurables, Carter will likely go somewhere in the second or third round. With his skill level, he could be a late first round pick, so any team that picks him up in those later rounds will be getting a corner with major upside potential.
Physical cornerback who's at his best when he's able to see the play develop in front of him rather than having to lock down a target as a man-to-man cover corner. Carter's ability to tackle and play the ball in space should interest zone defenses, but a transition to safety might make sense if he can carry a bit more weight.
He wasn't very productive his junior year in 2014, but teams rarely threw at him. He's strong and fast enough to play inside or outside, giving him a chance to contribute as a rookie, and could be a future option at safety.
What he brings: Carter has the length, upper-body strength and enough speed to emerge as an effective press corner at the NFL level. He's also got the frame and leaping ability to match up with bigger receivers competing for 50-50 balls, but he's not a ball hawk (two career interceptions). He also lacks ideal change-of-direction skills, so he needs to win with physicality to hold own in man working against most receivers.
Carter is not a player we saw going anywhere near this high, particularly with so many better corners still on the board. He did earn a positive overall grade, but his coverage grade ranked 93rd out of 134 cornerbacks in the draft class.
Outlook for 2015
Barring injuries, Carter should be in a backup role as a rookie. He will still be able to contribute on special teams, but as far as playing cornerback goes, the hope would be that he gets to simply learn behind Darius Slay and Rashean Mathis and develop in a backup role. A starting spot could be in play next year, but Carter likely needs at least a year of seasoning to get to that point.