Andre Carter II Could be a Hidden Gem for Minnesota Defense

Andre Carter II celebrates a sack.

Andre Carter II has the makings of the next great Vikings edge rusher. Minnesota has been home to many incredible defenders, including the record-setting 2017 defense with the fierce duo of Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter hunting opposing quarterbacks. With the recent departure of Zadarius Smith, who forced his way out with a trade to Cleveland, there is room for new rushers to fill in new DC Brian Flores’ aggressive defense.

Surprisingly enough, Andre Carter II was not selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. PFF had him ranked in the top 150 on their big board. He did, however, sign one of the largest contracts for an undrafted free agent. He inked a deal with $340,000 guaranteed, signaling Minnesota’s front office commitment to the Army defender.

Carter’s college career was full of ups-and-downs in production. There is no denying that the talent is there, though. He started 25 of his 33 games at Army, collecting in 20 sacks, 25.5 TFLs, and 99 tackles. However, 15.5 of those sacks came in 2021 (second-most in the FBS behind 2023 3rd overall pick Will Anderson Jr.). Following his spectacular 2022 season was a down year in 2023. He could not repeat his breakout performance and did not have the strength to consistently beat double teams that game planned him. This showed in his NFL Combine performance. In somewhat of a surprise, he finished with just 11 reps on the bench press and ran a 4.91 40-yard dash.

The sky is the limit, though, if Carter can develop more muscle with the Vikings strength and conditioning staff. He has the length and motor to turn into a premier edge. This would be invaluable to a Vikings defense that needed to blitz to generate pressure during the past 2 seasons. The Vikings recently activated him from the PUP list, and he immediately started flashing in practice. Tutelage from coaches like Brian Flores and peers like Danielle Hunter will be useful. They should be able to help him learn to beat NFL offensive linemen. He will likely get a large workload in the first preseason game against the Seahawks. Look for him to be in the backfield often before the home opener in September.

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