Scout extols the talents of Duron Carter

The Vikings have good reason to be pursuing receiver Duron Carter, said one scout for the Montreal Alouettes, where Carter played the last two years. The scout gave an in-depth scouting report on Carter to Viking Update, talking about his physical talents and his mental makeup.

Most players available to NFL teams at this time of year are signed to futures contracts and won’t have a major impact in the NFL.

That’s not the case with Minnesota Vikings’ pursuit of wide receiver Duron Carter, according to Russ Lande, the Director of U.S. College Scouting for the Montreal Aloutettes, the CFL team that Carter played for his last two seasons. Lande sees Carter as an NFL starter in a year or two, believing he already possesses as much talent as half of the starting receivers in the NFL.

“I think he physically is as gifted at least as half the starting receivers in the (NFL). Is he a blazer? No. But he’s smooth, he’s a tremendous athlete as far as body control, concentration and the ability to make great catches,” Lande said while scouting players at the Senior Bowl last week. “He has great balance to run through hits and keep his feet. His ability to make great catches is remarkable.”

Duron, the son of former Vikings receiver Cris Carter, had dinner with receivers coach George Stewart and a member of the team’s front office earlier this month and worked out for the team. According to a source, the Vikings “have a very competitive offer on the table.”

But they weren’t alone. Carter is being pursued by at least a handful of teams, including the Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns, but the Vikings are believed to be one of Carter’s top choices, joining the Colts in that category. Some of his interest in the Vikings may have to do with his father’s decade-long affiliation with the team, but Duron said in his first attempt to make the Vikings back in 2013 that Stewart was a deciding factor for him choosing to come to Minnesota’s rookie minicamp weekend back then instead of going with the Baltimore Ravens.

Lande joins others in seeing the Vikings and Colts as the top contenders to land Carter, but he gives a slight edge to the Colts.

“For some reason I just get the feeling that the Colts – they’re the most in tune with the CFL of any team in the NFL,” Lande said. “(General manager) Ryan Grigson is, I think, the most open GM in terms of he’s going to look anywhere and everywhere for players. … I think that may sway a little bit in that, hey, if I’m going to sign with a team and I’m not a sure thing of making it and I’m not getting $3 million up front, I’m getting maybe 50 grand or a hundred grand, I want to go somewhere where they’re committed to bringing in players from different places and they’re going to develop. To me, that’s what makes the Colts unique.”

The Colts already have a former CFL player, Jerrell Freeman, as their starting inside linebacker and he finished second on the team with 95 tackles, and also had defensive end Justin Hickman on their roster for two years.

Carter’s journey to being pursued by NFL teams was a bumpy one. He started out with Ohio State but was rule academically ineligible, went to Coffeyville Community College, where he had 44 catches for 690 yards and 10 touchdowns, then was recruited to play at Alabama before more trouble arose and he eventually transferred to Florida Atlantic.

But Lande said Carter matured greatly during his time with the Alouettes.

“You’re talking about a kid that when he got there, I think he really didn’t grasp what it was like to be a professional. He was still sort of getting that. Barely played in college. But I think the thing he had going for him was I would say he is smarter than probably 80 or 90 percent of the receivers I’ve ever come across. He’s a very intelligent kid. Scored, I can’t remember if it was a 37 or a 40 on the Wonderlic when we gave it to him, so he’s a really smart kid,” Lande said. “I think part of it was just growing up. When he got there I think he was 20 or 21, so he’s a young kid, didn’t get the benefit of going through the ups and downs of playing in college and I think that’s what he got with us.”

Lande said Carter had an “up and down” first training camp with the Alouettes and was placed on the practice roster before being promoted in the second half of the regular season. His confidence grew, and so did his production.

In 2013, Carter had 49 catches for 909 yards and five touchdowns for Montreal. Last year, he had an outstanding season. He led them in receptions (75), yards (1,030) and touchdowns (7).

“He was always a confident kid, but it was a different confidence. It wasn’t a dumb-kid confidence, like ‘Oh, I’m going to do everything and be the greatest ever.’ It was like, ‘I know what I can do. I know how to do it.’ And he just seemed more confident, more ready for what was coming,” Lande said. “Is he as mature as a 28-year-old who has been in the league 10 years? No, of course not. But has he matured and is he going to be fine? I do (think so); I think there are not going be long-term issues as far as his maturity. I think he just needs to continue to grow up.”

Carter admitted he didn’t take school seriously, but Lande reiterated that intelligence isn’t the question. Maturity was.

“I think like many athletes that are premier, rare – he wasn’t just a normal recruit, he was a guy everybody in the country wanted. When you’re that special, a lot of times you just don’t think you need to go through the school process. You’re going to be able to play at the next level. They’ll find a way to make sure you’re still in school,” Lande said. “I think he just didn’t grasp the enormity and the importance of – if he had stayed in school all four years, he’d probably be a first-round pick coming out school. I can’t see him being a second. He’s not a blazer. He’s probably in the 4.5s to 4.6s, but he’s a big kid with rare ball skills, great hands. Tremendous competitor, great runner after the catch. The only thing he lacks is speed as a player. That’s the only thing. He’s not slow. He just doesn’t have that rare, special speed.”

Lande said there was only one game that Carter didn’t fare well in the CFL, and that was when he went up against cornerback Delvin Breaux, who got in Carter’s face and took him out of his game. Breaux was easily the top cornerback in the CFL, Lande said, and just recently signed with the New Orleans Saints.

Breaux’s physicality got to Carter and he picked up two penalties for “losing his cool.”

“I think that’s the part that Duron still has to figure out – keep your emotions, stay focused on the task at hand,” Lande said. “You’re not going to dominate everybody and that’s going to be his biggest challenge. He’s so smart that I think once he gets in the league he’s going to figure that out. I can get this. I really think the best situation would be go to a team where this year they can put him on the practice squad. Let him spend a year on the practice squad, let him mature, pay him because you can pay a guy now the NFL minimum on the practice squad. Put him on the practice squad, pay him the $400,000 so he’ll stay there and won’t go to another team and next year you will have a good starting receiver in the NFL.”

Asked if Duron, because of his big body and good hands, reminds Lande of his father, Cris Carter, the scout for the Alouettes and founder of scouting service G.M. Jr. said it was a another former Vikings receiver that is closest to Duron Carter.

“If I were to say anybody, I would say Sidney Rice a little bit because you’re that long strider, not that elusive guy. Maybe a slower Randy Moss because Sidney was a lot like Randy except he couldn’t run,” Lande said. “He’s in the mold. That’s sort of what Duron is. He’s very good all-around player; he just doesn’t have that get-up-and-go, but he can run after the catch. He made some plays for us running after the catch, just remarkable.”

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