NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Maryland ILB Jermaine Carter Jr.

From now until the 2018 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#1 Jermaine Carter Jr./ILB Maryland – 6’0/5 222

The Good

– Leader, communicator, commanded the Terps defense and not having him out there was noticeable
– High football IQ, quick processor in his run/pass keys and in diagnosing route combinations
– Shows hand use to stay clean in the run game and not let blockers get engaged
– High effort/motor player who chases the ball sideline to sideline and downfield, closes with violence
– Reliable tackler in open field, strong enough to bring backs down one-on-one
– Capable of carrying tight ends in coverage, though ideally when he has leverage/help to funnel or contain receiver
– Used as an every down, all-situations player
– Some versatility, walked out with running backs and saw a couple snaps on the edge
– Excellent starting experience with good production
– Well-liked and regarded in the locker room

The Bad

– Physically, doesn’t stand out with strength or athleticism
– Has difficulty working off blocks when OG/C engage, gets too tall and needs to do better job staying square to the football
– Better as a zone dropper/matchup defender than pure man, best when he has help/leverage than covering player solo
– Needs to be smarter and less aggressive on the sideline, avoid late penalties
– Lacks the speed to stop perimeter runs
– Below average frame in height/weight
– Upside may be limited
– Not going to make much of an impact on the edge, marginal pass rusher whose impact will only be created by scheme

Bio

– 37 career starts, 12 as the MIKE in 2017
– Career: 320 tackles, 29.5 TFL 9.5 sacks, 8 FFs
– 2017: 90 tackles, 6.5 TFL 3.5 sacks, 4 FFs
– Two-year team captain in college, team captain in high school
– Led Terps in tackles three straight seasons
– Nickname is “PeeWee”
– Reduced body fat by 8% since junior season

Tape Breakdown

Carter Jr. is someone I absolutely see the Steelers selecting with one of their seventh round picks. He falls neatly into their “hearts and smarts” mantra they’ve repeated over the last couple of draft classes. Carter may never be an elite prospect but he’s going to make the bottom of the roster more competitive and you know you’re going to get an intelligent, hard-working player to round out your draft class.

His top trait is above the neck. He was the leader, the communicator of the defense and without him on the feel, those things suffered, similar to losing Ryan Shazier in Pittsburgh. Here’s the best example I can give to you.

Top-down view, watch Carter read the route combination. Lets the deep crossing route go to the safety, doesn’t bite on it, and he drifts to #2 down the seam. Forces the throw to the outside shoulder when it’s supposed to be inside, the receiver can’t get his head around and track it, and the pass is incomplete. Well-covered, well-communicated. Play unfolds down the left seam.

Watch what happens later in the game without Carter on the field. Same route combination. Two players bite on the crosser, leaving the seam open, and it would’ve been a walk-in six had the receiver now blown a tire at the end. Same play, watch the left seam.

Sorta feels like watching the Steelers defense, doesn’t it?

But Carter isn’t a perfect prospect. He’s not very strong versus the run and gets swallowed up when he can’t defeat the block immediately. And a lack of speed can make it tough for him to get to the edge.

I get this is Barkley but the first defender had already slowed him up and Carter still can’t get there and flails at the tackle. That doesn’t get easier in the NFL.

Or taking on a the block from the center working to the second level on this inside zone. He’s trying to fill his gap, I’m not holding that against him, but you can see how easily he’s blown out of that gap on his run fit, even though he’s trying to throw his shoulder in and take it on. Bounced back and he’s unable to recover to change direction and get his hands on the back.

The starting experience, the captaincy is attractive to Pittsburgh. Captain in high school and as a junior and senior at Maryland. Not everyone can say that especially late Day Three guys.

Carter is a little Jon Bostic-like. The Steelers don’t have to double-dip at ILB, drafting one gives them five for the 53 (Bostic, VW, Matakevich, Fort, high draft pick) but Carter wouldn’t be a bad selection one bit for the consistency and intelligence he’ll bring in that room. Confident he’ll do all he can to maximize his talent.

Projection: Late Day Three

Games Watched: at Wisconsin, vs Penn State, vs UCF

Previous 2018 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Sam Darnold Garret Dooley Calvin Ridley Fred Warner Ronald Jones II
Maurice Hurst Mike McCray DeShon Elliott  Malik Jefferson Ogbo Okoronkwo
Trayvon Henderson Josh Rosen Ronnie Harrison Kallen Ballage Cedric Wilson Jr.
Micah Kiser Will Hernandez Leighton Vander Esch Josh Allen   Harold Landry
Marquis Haynes  Tremaine Edmunds Kerryon Johnson Lorenzo Carter  Sony Michael
Kyzir White  Rashaan Evans  Tegray Scales  Isaac Yiadom  Jeff Holland
 Rashaad Penny John Kelly Bo Scarbrough  Roquan Smith  Durham Smythe
 Mark Walton  Josey Jewell  PJ Hall  Dorian O’Daniel  Josh Adams
 Leon Jacobs  Marcus Davenport  Jack Cichy  Royce Freeman  Nick DeLuca
 Vita Vea  Darrel Williams  Mason Rudolph  Shaun Dion Hamilton  MJ Stewart
 Derwin James  Kameron Kelly Justin Reid Sam Hubbard Da’Ron Payne
DaeSean Hamilton Nyheim Hines Arden Key Hercules Mata’afa Jason Cabinda
Marcus Allen Michael Gallup Jessie Bates III Kemoko Turay Genard Avery
Hayden Hurst Dallas Goedert Andrew Brown Allen Lazard Davin Bellamy
Phillip Lindsay Jalyn Holmes DJ Chark Mike Gesicki Derrius Guice
Justin Jackson Simmie Cobbs Jr. Anthony Miller Terrell Edmunds Chase Edmonds
Josh Sweat Equanimeous St. Brown DJ Moore Dante Pettis Tre Flowers
Lamar Jackson Taven Bryan Ito Smith Antonio Callaway Keke Coutee
Darius Leonard Nick Chubb Jordan Lasley Ian Thomas Jaleel Scott
James Washington J’Mon Moore Oren Burks Auden Tate Christian Kirk
Greg Gilmore Chris Worley Bilal Nichols
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