Despite having pass rusher/outside linebacker as the their top need entering the 2011 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots did not address it until the sixth round when they drafted Markell Carter from the University of Central Arkansas. Most fans said, “Who?” when the selection was made. Carter is coming from a Division 2 school and did not participate in the Combine, not that participation in that event is such a big deal. RT Sebastian Vollmer was not asked to attend the Combine. However, the NFL is littered with small school, under-the-radar players that have achieved success. Can Markell Carter be one of those players?
Markell Carter’s final three seasons in college produced 15.5 sacks, 5.5 of which came last season. Carter’s college defensive coordinator, Matt Williamson, feels that rushing the passer is his best talent.
“He’s a very, very good pass rusher — he will get after quarterbacks and cause pressure,” Williamson said. “If I’m playing to win a game, he’s going to be the guy I want coming after the quarterback off the edge.”
If Markell can carve out a niche in New England rushing the passer, he could help cure what ails the Patriots on defense. The Pats were dead last in the NFL on third down last season, allowing opposing quarterbacks to make those critical conversions. Playing outside linebacker is more than rushing the passer though in Bill Belichick’s 3-4 defense. While Carter played defensive end in college, he also dropped back into coverage when the team ran zone blitzes. Dropping into coverage is usually the biggest hurdle that college defensive ends face when transitioning to outside linebacker. Markell Carter already has a leg up in that department.
Because of Carter’s small school status, there’s not a ton of information out there on him, but I did find the YouTube highlight video below. One thing that jumps off the film is Carter’s motor, and he appears to have a good burst in getting after the QB. Check it out for yourself. The next time we get to see Markell Carter show his talent is (end of the lockout permitting) training camp.