This is a prospect I am super excited to talk about. I love the service academies. I will just say Army and Navy is the greatest rivalry in College Football. We rarely see players get drafted from the academies. Army, Navy, and Air Force have always recruited very unique individuals. They have recruited players that after graduation they are not thinking about the NFL, they are turning their attention to serving the country.
For the first time in a very long time, we have a player from a service academy that is getting serious first round consideration for the NFL Draft. Caleb Cambell in 2008 was the last person from Army to get drafted in the NFL. Army has not had a first-round draft pick since Tex Coulter in 1947.
Throughout this prospect, we will discuss why Carter has made headlines in recent days and also look to see if this is a path the Eagles should go with.
Why Andre Carter II has been making headlines
You have heard his name in the media in the last few days. Students at Army, Navy, and Air Force go to school for free. In return they dedicate 5 years of active duty and 4 years in the reserves post-graduation. By doing so, this usually eliminates the possibility of playing professional sports.
However, in 2019 President Trump passed a bill that allowed members of the service academies to apply for a waiver that would allow them to purpose professional sports immediately following graduation. However, Section 553 of the National Defense Authorization Act was passed recently and made it all the way to the desk of President Biden. In the Bill, it states that pursing sports is a breach of service obligation that each graduate of Army, Navy, and Air Force makes by attending and graduating from their respective institution.
The news that Carter may not be able to purse the NFL came hours before the kickoff of the Army Navy game. The parents of Carter, Army HC Jeff Monken, and many others voiced concerns that a ruling like this came so last minute. However, after the story reached the desks of many high-ranking government officials, the language was changed in the bill that allow players like Carter to purse the NFL and other professional sport opportunities.
Now that Carter is all in on the NFL, let's take a look to see if he fits in with the Eagles.
Weight: 260 lbs
Arms: 32 1/2
After not receiving many high-end offers from FBS or FCS schools, Carter committed Army. In his freshman season in 2019, he played in 1 game and played 2 snaps.
In 2020, he played 198 snaps in 9 games for the Black Knights. He added 9 tackles with 7 run stops. In pass coverage he had 1 INT, and as a pass rusher he had 12 pressures, 8 QB hurries, and 1 sack. After 2020, he was rumored to be a top prospect in the transfer portal, however after consideration he decided to stay at Army. After their sophomore seasons, is when students decide to fully commit to the Army or pursue other opportunities.
In 2021, he played in 13 games and was on the field for 639 snaps. He added 20 tackles and made 24 stops. As a pass rusher, he had 58 pressures, 34 QB hurries, and 15 sacks. He became the first All-American for Army in 31 years. He was only half a sack away from the FBS leader Will Anderson Jr from Alabama.
In 2022 his stats went down, but after a monster 2021 season, Carter became a player that the opposing OC's had to take account for. He was often double and triple teamed. Even with much lower stats, he still was a force on the defensive line that has skyrocketed him into first round contention ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Can transition to LB
At the start of the season, Carter made Bruce Feldman's Freak List. According to Feldman "Now a 6-7, 260-pound senior with a 6-10 wingspan, Carter piled up 18.5 TFLs, 15.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles in 2021. Carter’s length is only more amazing when factoring in that he also blazed a 4.2 in his pro agility test this offseason. Army coaches say that when Carter’s doing change of direction work in the summer, he finishes in the top three with their skill guys. They also say his reaction time and processing speed is unmatched"
Carter is fast and an aggressive tackler. When I think of the most aggressive player on a football team, the player I think about are the EDGE rushers. Carter fits that mold. He is super strong and aggressive as a tackler. When he is a pass rusher, he does a great job with flexibility and body control to bend around the OT.
Even though Carter is listed as an EDGE rusher, he has the capability to drop back into coverage and become an LB. He has good movement and good range to drop back and make an impact as a LB.
When you watch Carter's game, his upper body work is phenomenal. His hands and upper body moves are top of this class. He has great patience and awareness to not over commit and work with his hands.
Overall, Carter possesses everything you want as an EDGE rusher.
Areas of Improvement
When watching Carter there are two areas he needs to improve. His upper body is much more developed than his lower body. Smaller blockers can work him with their power. He will need to get that up to speed before the Senior Bowl and Combine. His second area of improvement involves his hands. He has great upper body skill sets, but he needs to learn when he can't win with his legs that he needs to defeat the blocker with his hands. He often will shy away from his hands when that does not work, but he needs to learn that he can finish regardless.
Not many areas of improvement for Carter. There will always be that concern over his military waiver for any NFL team.
Should the Eagles consider Andre Carter II?
I do not need to go into detail why the Eagles should draft an EDGE with one of their first-round picks, but now it is a question of which one. Carter is not the safe pick. There is always going to be a chance that he will have to go serve in the Army, but after the recent ruling it seems that will be after he retires from the NFL. To add to this, he will have to pay back tuition from West Point if he does pursue the NFL, which would take away a good chunk of his rookie signing bonus.
He has what you want in an EDGE. He is a great athlete. He is still a work in progress, but the potential is there. If the Eagles had only one 1st round pick, I would shy away from this pick, but with 2, I like the risk that Carter provides. If he pans out, he could be the next long-term EDGE for the Birds.