With the NFL Draft less than a month away and the free agents dwindling, it's becoming clear that the New England Patriots are going to add talent at cornerback through the draft. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. The Patriots were also awarded two compensatory picks by the NFL last week, one of the picks being a valuable third rounder. If Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio see a player they want, they have the fuel to trade up (they must keep the compensatory pick), and if they lose their target, they'll have no issues trading down to add picks. If they decide to stick at 32 and make their pick, Stanford cornerback Alex Carter would be a good selection for the cornerback-starved Super Bowl Champions.
Carter was ranked as a four-star recruit by ESPN, Rivals, and Scout.com. Carter played for Briar Woods High School in Virginia and he was named to the 2011 U.S. Army, Parade, and PrepStar All-America Team. He was also named the seventh best athlete by SuperPrep and was first team all-state and all-region as a cornerback and kick returner; he was also voted as the 2011 Dulles District Defensive Player of the Year. Carter finished his senior year with 50 tackles, five interceptions, one defensive touchdown, and over 1,000 all-purpose yards. Carter isn't just a stat collector; he led Briar Woods to the Virginia AA State Title his senior year. Carter also excelled in track and field in high school and is the son of Tom Carter, a 1993 first round pick of the Washington Redskins.
Carter started eight of 14 games as a freshman and when he wasn't starting, he was contributing on special teams. Carter finished 2012 with 34 solo tackles, 12 assisted tackles, three tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, and one pass broken up. Carter also had some opportunities in the kick return game, compiling 110 yards on five returns. Carter got significantly better as the year went on, culminating with a huge pass breakup vs. UCLA to seal the Pac-12 Championship and then finishing with seven tackles vs. Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl victory to end the year. Carter was also named honorable mention on the All-Pac-12 team.
As a sophomore, Carter started all thirteen games and began to get recognized by national publications as one of the best defensive backs in the country, not just the Pac-12. Carter finished 2013 with 39 solo tackles, 20 assisted tackles, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble, one interception, and seven passes broken up. Carter was removed from kick return duty because he was so good on defense that they couldn't afford to lose him to injury. Once again Carter was named as All-Pac-12 honorable mention and played excellent in the Pac-12 title game and the Rose Bowl vs. Michigan State. Carter, from 2011 to 2013, played in a state championship game, two Pac-12 title games, and two Rose Bowls. It is not a coincidence- Carter is a smart player and a winner.
Carter entered his junior year as a highly decorated cornerback, being named to the Bednarik Award watch list and the Nagurski Award watch list. He was also a Sporting News and Athlon preseason All-Pac-12 selection. Carter did miss one start but he put up similar stats compared to 2012 and 2013. Carter finished with 33 solo tackles, eight assisted tackles, one forced fumble, one interception, and nine passes broken up. Carter was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention for the third straight year and was also selected to the Phil Steele All-Pac-12 third team. Carter made the decision to forgo his senior season to enter the 2015 NFL Draft.
Carter has excellent size (6'0, 202) for a cornerback, and he is very aggressive, which is essential in the NFL. Carter ran the 40 yard dash in 4.51 seconds, which isn't burner speed, but it is fast enough, especially with his size. He also had a 40 inch vertical leap at the combine, which makes him that more dangerous with his large frame. He does need to improve his strength; he only finished with 17 reps in the bench press. Considering that Carter is a willing tackler and very aggressive, there is no doubt he'll put in the work to get stronger in the NFL. Carter did play a lot of man-to-man at Stanford but he can also play in a zone scheme if needed. Every team in the NFL needs cornerback depth, so expect to see Carter drafted between the 30th and 50th pick.