Plucked by the New York Jets in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, North Carolina running back Michael Carter was overjoyed by his selection.
It was a phenomenal fit in his eyes and though he was drafted later than he envisioned, Carter believes he can make an impact early in New York.
"All my grades were high. So, in the second or third round, I was kind of playing the waiting game. I'm not obligated to anything of course, but I feel like I earned the right to be drafted a little higher," Carter said in a Q&A with the New York Daily News. "But when I got the call from the team I wanted to get the call from, all those feelings went away. I was just thankful to be a part of the New York Jets, because I feel like it was a great situation."
Taken with the 107th pick of the draft, Carter finds himself in a backfield that's wide open and prognosticated to be rife with competition. He joins LaMical Perine, a second-year runner returning to the Jets, and free-agent addition Tevin Coleman as those at the Gang Green forefront for the top spot in the backfield. And Carter has big plans for his debut season.
"My plan is to contribute in a big way going into the year," said Carter, who was the fifth RB off the board in the draft. "We have a really good running back room. I feel like people write these guys off because they don't have the most popular name. We got some real talent in our room and I just think that we all have one goal in mind and that's just a win. Of course you want to be the starting running back. I'll be a fool to sit up on this call and be like 'Naw I don't want to be the starting running back.' I just think that it is a great competition. I think competition is going to turn us all into better players."
Perine, 23, and Carter, 22 – back-to-back Jets fourth-round picks – are emblematic of a youth movement on offense for New York. A suddenly deep wide receiver corps has been buoyed by the drafting of Elijah Moore, who was impressive during minicamp. 2020 first-round pick Mekhi Becton is slotted, provided he's healthy, at left tackle next to 2021 first-rounder Alijah Vera-Tucker. And there's of course the centerpiece of it all, 2021 No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson at quarterback.
"He will be a great quarterback," Carter said. "I don't want to put any expectations on him because then I feel like you guys, the media people, do that enough. 'How is Zach Wilson going to do this year?' He doesn't pay too much attention to it. He just works to get better every day. Like Zach messed up on the field he fixes it ASAP. He's always learning and trying to get better, that's something you want to see out of your quarterback."
When Carter was drafted in the fourth round, the Jets followed in the fifth with Duke safety Michael Carter. The name game garnered some notice as things such as that will do on Day 3 of the draft.
As training camp nears, though, the promise of the fourth-round Carter making some moves up the depth chart and an instant impact are what's drawing notice.
Coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for North Carolina in which he also showed some promise catching the ball, Carter boasts promise to ignite a Jets backfield that's long been dry of production.