Breakdown: Lions Select Alex Carter

Everything you need to know about the Detroit Lions’ third-round selection of cornerback Alex Carter out of Stanford from Scout's college and pro football experts.

Awaiting Image
Alex Carter
Stanford / 6'0 / 196 lbs
  • CB
  • [3] #16


This former four-star recruit got a ton of playing experience for the Cardinal, starting in 34 of the 40 games he played in at Stanford. Carter finished with 146 tackles, two picks and 17 deflected passes. This is a physical and smart cornerback prospect that will have a chance to transition to safety once he gets to the NFL. Carter is not a speed demon but shows closing speed and a burst.

Dave-Te' Thomas Player Evaluation

The 2011 Gatorade Virginia Player of the Year might do just the opposite of his father when he enters the NFL. Tom, a first-round selection by Washington in 1993, was a free safety at Notre Dame for three seasons, but played cornerback during his nine-year NFL career with the Redskins, Bears and Bengals. Alex Carter has been a steady presence at corner for Stanford, but several teams have him rated higher on their draft boards as a free safety target.

In 34 starting assignments, Carter has accounted for 146 tackles and 17 pass breakups. He started the final eight games on the 2012 schedule at right cornerback, gaining 110 yards on five kickoff returns while registering 46 tackles with three stops-for-loss and three forced fumbles. He shifted to the left side for his sophomore and junior campaigns, delivering 59 stops with seven pass deflections and an interception in 2013, followed by 41 tackles, a theft and nine breakups during his final year with the Cardinal in 2014.

The left cornerback has a well-built frame with good upper-body muscle development, defined chest, wide back, good shoulder width, tight abdomen, good bubble and defined calves and thighs. He lacks the timed speed you look for in a cornerback at the next level, but compensates with an explosive closing burst on plays in front of him, making him a potential target to move to free safety in the NFL.

Carter plays at a high intensity level and gives second effort when beaten on the play. He shows very good timing breaking up the pass but does not seem to have the natural hands to make the interception (more deflections could have been pass thefts, as he lacks ideal hand size).

It is very rare to see him throttle down, as Carter likes to be involved in the action, even if he has to run long distances to get there. He gets a good jump on the ball, thanks to his initial reads and is alert to blocking schemes and has very good zone awareness, handling the switch-off smoothly, another reason to make him a free safety at the next level.

Carter does a nice job of flipping his hips and mirroring a receiver on deep routes, but with his raw power and range, he could see a quicker route to playing time as a slot cornerback or shifting to free safety, especially for teams that require their third-level defenders to handle a lot of zone coverage assignments.

Carter has the strength and attitude to generate very good physicality to produce impact hits or when trying to reroute the receivers at the line. He has very good body control and displays the burst to close on plays in front of him, along with that critical second gear that corners need in order to recover when a receiver gets behind him. He has good eyes for the action in front of him, showing excellent timing trying to disrupt the bubble screens.

The junior defensive back does a good job of anticipating the quarterback when playing in the zone and generally makes good reads and adjustments to flow to the ball. He will try to reroute receivers with a press, showing confidence in his strength to be effective there. His ability to quickly identify his keys and react to the play makes him look taller than his size really is. He has the ability to distinguish between pass and run plays, so there is no concern that he will be fooled by play action.

His timing and feel for the ball in flight gets him most of his success when making plays on the ball, but he does lack the natural ball skills needed to develop into a quality pass thief. Carter is just not a natural hands catcher with big “mitts,” and when trying to steal the sphere he will usually rely on his body to catch the ball and looks uncomfortable when trying to extend and pluck the pigskin away from his frame, as his hands are not that of a receiver’s quality.

Carter is not a natural ball thief, but he does have outstanding feet and ability to mirror and adjust to the receiver’s movements. He can stick his hands in the face of his man to impede his opponent’s vision of the ball in flight and does a very nice job of planting, redirecting and flipping his hips. He is equally efficient playing the trail, cover or cushion, and rarely allows cushion on the route.

Carter has very loose hips, but he will open then too early, especially when challenged with double moves. He lacks the upper-body strength or solid hand-placement skills to reroute receivers too much. He does show good comprehension of zone concepts, though. He has the range and suddenness (too sudden at times) in his movements and shows good awareness to attack plays in front of him or switch off on his assignment in the deep part of the secondary. He can play in off coverage, but is still better in man-to-man action.

Alex Carter Scouting Combine measurables

6-1/196 (4.90 forty)
33 1/8-inch arm length
9 1/8-inch hands
40-inch vertical jump
10-foot-1 broad jump
7.05 3 cone drill
4.07 20 yard shuttle
11.31 60 yard shuttle

Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.


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