When the New York Giants drafted Lorenzo Carter in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL Draft they were hoping to get an impactful pass rusher at a bargain price.
Lorenzo Carter looked like a raw pass rusher in 2018 who could flash here and there with raw athleticism. That’s to be expected with rookie pass rushers, especially when they’re drafted outside of the top 2 rounds. Unfortunately, he might not be developing at the rate the team was hoping for.
Lorenzo Carter’s College career:
Lorenzo Carter was a Georgia Bulldog for 4 years. He moved around the formation quite often but primarily lined up as an edge rusher. He never became a consistent force on the edge as a Bulldog, he couldn’t collect more than 5 sacks in a single season during his college career. As a sophomore, he played in 10 games and didn’t even tally a single sack. His production as a pass rusher has always been up and down dating back to his college days.
Lorenzo Carter’s Draft Profile:
Lorenzo Carter was always considered a raw prospect who had a low floor but a high ceiling as well. He stands at 6’5” but only weighed in at 250 lbs. The most impressive attribute Carter possesses is his freakish speed for his size. He ran his 40-yard dash in 4.50 seconds. For a point of reference, he ran his 40-yard dash .01 seconds behind the team’s top wide receiver, Sterling Shepard. He relied on this speed to get into the backfield since he didn’t develop a variety of pass-rushing techniques or counter moves during his college career.
Run defense was also a concern. There were too many plays where he couldn’t shed blocks or maintain his ground on the edge against the bigger offensive tackles he would line up against.
Carter’s status through 3 weeks:
The young pass rusher got off to a red-hot start, looking like a problem for the first-team offense. Then the pads came on and he looked more like his 2018 self. He hasn’t had a sack in the preseason although he’s only been on the field for a handful of plays in each of the 3 games.
While the sacks haven’t been there he hasn’t applied much pressure either. To make matters even worse he hasn’t fared any better on early downs, looking like a liability as an edge-setter in run defense.
Is a position change possible for Lorenzo Carter?
There’s been some speculation at times about whether Carter would be better suited as an off-ball linebacker. In James Bettcher’s 3-4 defense he would need to line up as an inside linebacker. While he’s on the slim side for an inside linebacker he has already shown the ability to cover well from that position.
In week 13 of the 2018 season, Lorenzo Carter fared well against Tarik Cohen in coverage. One of the plays was a wheel route that is difficult to handle without many coverage reps in practice but he executed perfectly.
Dropping back into coverage is one of the weaknesses of the inside linebackers who are currently on the roster. This could potentially lead to Carter having that type of role out of necessity at times. When the team faces receiving backs like James White and Kenyan Drake in 2019 James Bettcher could be tempted to consider this an option if Carter isn’t providing much impact on the edge.
It’s not too late for Lorenzo Carter to make a leap in production for the 2019 season. It also wouldn’t be surprising if his role is reduced to obvious passing downs, whether he’s rushing the passer or playing back in coverage at times.
The team would consider it a failsafe option and quite frankly unfortunate to pull him off the edge and use him as an off-ball linebacker but it might be what he’s best at. Since he had 4 years to develop his pass-rushing repertoire in college and never really crafted it the chances of him doing that now don’t look great.
For now, Dave Gettleman and The New York Giants can only hope they didn’t take the bait on a workout warrior who’s a much better athlete than a football player.