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Breaking Down Andre Carter II

A closer look at one of the more notable Vikings’ UDFA signings

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 17 Villanova at Army Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Following the 2023 NFL Draft, the Vikings signed undrafted free agent Andre Carter II, edge rusher, Army. Carter was ranked 101st on the industry consensus draft board and was the 13th ranked edge rusher.

The Vikings made a relatively large financial commitment to Carter as a UDFA, providing him with a $40,000 signing bonus and a $300,000 salary guarantee.


Carter is an underweight edge rusher, but otherwise has prototypical length and agility for the position. His poor explosion testing belies his quick first step that is an important trait for the position as well that is difficult to measure in athletic testing. Carter is 23 years old.

College Stats

Carter had a breakout season in 2021, finishing with 14.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, an interception, and 17 tackles for loss. So much so, in fact, that he was frequently double-teamed in 2022- resulting in a decline in production as a pass rusher. He led the team in sacks and TFLs in both 2021 and 2022, setting the all-time team record for sacks in 2021.

PFF Profile and Stats

In Carter’s breakout season of 2021, he finished the season tied with future #2 overall pick Aiden Hutchinson for the top pass rushing grade among edge rushers (min 100 snaps) with a 93.4 grade. He finished third in pass rush productivity that year and had 59 total pressures including 15 sacks, 9 QB hits, and 35 hurries.

In 2022, while his pass rush productivity declined due to more attention, he improved considerably as a run defender and tackler, while still winning at a high rate as a pass rusher.

Scouting Reports

Here are a few scouting reports on Andre Carter II from leading media scouts.

Dane Brugler, The Athletic

BACKGROUND: Andre Carter II, the youngest of five siblings, played multiple sports throughout his childhood, joining the football team at age 6. His high school career started in California, where he attended Vista Murrieta High School, playing wide receiver and tight end for two seasons on the freshman and JV teams.

Carter’s family moved to Missouri City, Texas (20 miles southwest of Houston) prior to his junior season, and he enrolled at Ridge Point High School. However, he struggled to see the field as he was blocked on the tight end depth chart behind Mustapha Muhammad, who was one of the top tight end recruits in the country and later signed with Michigan. For his senior season, Carter transferred to Westbury Christian School, a private school in Houston, but he fractured his back three games into the 2017 season and was shut down. With very little interest from colleges, Carter sought out a prep school, and he moved to Connecticut to attend Cheshire Academy for a fifth high school season. He started the year as a wide receiver and tight end before becoming a two-way player and blossoming as an outside linebacker. Carter also played basketball in high school.

A two-star recruit, Carter wasn’t ranked nationally by the recruiting services and went overlooked by most FBS programs because of limited high school tape. He received scholarship offers from several FCS programs in the Patriot (Fordham, Lafayette) and Ivy (Cornell) leagues. But he committed to Army (his first offer) after outside linebackers coach John Loose visited Cheshire and saw Carter’s potential up close. Carter chose Army over Air Force and was one of the lowest-ranked recruits in the Black Knights’ 2019 class. He played only a handful of snaps as a freshman as he developed his body and adjusted both to Academy life and playing defense. He accepted his invitation to the 2023 Senior Bowl (second player in Army history to participate).

STRENGTHS: Tall, angular body type with terrific arm length … has the frame to add additional mass/strength … uses a long first step to quickly enter his rush and challenge the corner … flexible ankles and lower body to bend mid-rush … unleashes a cross-swipe or cross-club to soften his outside path … shows a quick lateral stride or spin move to access inside rush paths … nonstop in his pursuit and sustains his effort through the whistle … soft-spoken by nature, but his coaches say he gradually came out of his shell (Army linebacker coach John Loose: “He’s becoming more of a leader in the room. Brings up good questions. Just does everything you want.”) … was only 200 pounds as a senior in high school and has worked hard to add weight … set the school record for sacks in a season (15.5) in 2021 and ranks No. 2 in Army history with 20.0 career sacks.

WEAKNESSES: Underpowered and will need time to develop his muscle mass in his upper and lower body … hands/clubs are quick but need to get stronger and more precise … rushes tall and allows blockers to get underneath him, disrupting his balance … not currently equipped to counter multiple blockers … lacks a stout base and can be moved by tight ends … undisciplined contain responsibilities, and his eagerness to chase down plays will take him out of position … run instincts are still a work in progress, and he can be fooled by misdirection … often dropped in space in college but doesn’t have the anticipation or awareness to make plays in coverage … missed two games as a senior because of injury and had a nagging right hamstring injury during the combine … sack production plummeted in 2022, and he was held without a sack in eight of 10 games he played that year.

SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Army, Carter was a stand-up outside linebacker (DAWG position) to the boundary in defensive coordinator Nate Woody’s 3-4 base scheme. Primarily an offensive player until his prep year in 2018, he evolved from a third-down rusher to an every-down player in 2021 and finished No. 2 in the FBS (behind Will Anderson Jr.) with a school-record 15.5 sacks, becoming Army’s first All-American in 31 years. A stretched-out, fluid athlete, Carter uses his long strides to burst off the ball and challenge the edge with his arc acceleration. He displays the speed and motor to chase down ball carriers, but he needs to get stronger at the point of attack and develop his body power (as a rusher and run stopper). Overall, Carter will require time in an NFL strength program and needs to learn how to deal with extra attention from blockers, but he is an agile athlete with terrific length and effort, which is a great foundation for a developing pass rusher. He has down-the-road potential and will require a patient staff who can mold his game. Army hasn’t had a player drafted in the top-200 picks in the Super Bowl era.

GRADE: 5th-6th Round

Lance Zierlein,


Long and rangy, Carter is currently best suited as a 3-4 rush linebacker on passing downs, but is likely to develop into an every-down player with additional growth both physically and technically. Carter needs to play with more skilled hands and inject a little more glass into his on-field diet in order to meet force with force when the run game comes downhill at him. His explosive get-off and natural bend/agility at the top of the rush are enough to create early opportunities for himself as a quarterback hunter. Carter might need a longer runway to meet his potential, but if does his pass-rush homework, he could take a substantial leap forward as an odd or even front edge rusher by Year 3.


  • Finished 2021 season with 15.5 sacks.
  • Wingspan to excite evaluators looking for a future edge-setter.
  • Long frame with the potential to add substantial mass and muscle in the pros.
  • Explodes up the field to distress pass-setting tackles.
  • Long, bendy strides with the ability to flip his hips and cut corners of the rush arc.
  • Fairly effective rip-and-run mechanism with his rush.
  • Can make silky smooth transitions inside on two-way go.
  • Fluid feet for seamless inside spin counters.


  • Might need a redshirt year to hit weights and get bigger.
  • Can be a little too passive as a run defender.
  • Allows easy attacks into his frame by blockers.
  • Doesn’t play with much shock in his hands.
  • Doesn’t unglue quickly from punch once it lands.
  • Had issues dealing with additional attention from pass protection in 2022.
  • Drag-down tackler.

Sources Tell Us

“You won’t even recognize him in three years with how much his body will change when he’s on an NFL team. He’s going to be a lot thicker and stronger than what you see on tape right now.” — Scouting director for AFC team

Projection: 5th-6th round

Kyle Crabbs, The Draft Network

Army EDGE Andre Carter II is an enticing defensive prospect who possesses the raw athleticism to attract the attention of defensive coaches across the league. This is a high-motor player and his presence at West Point is a damn near lock to ensure he’ll be a strong figure and presence in an NFL locker room. Carter has endured a production regression in 2022 but his upward mobility and growth as a player are sure to garner intrigue throughout the process.

Originally an unranked recruit, Carter was a wide receiver and tight end at Westbury Christian High School in Houston. His transition to playing on the edge was aided by a redshirt season in 2019 in which he logged no varsity action before taking his first defensive snaps in 2020. In the time that has passed, Carter has enjoyed spurts of significant production. He was among the top-graded pass rushers in the FBS in 2021 and logged multiple tackles for loss in nearly half of his games that season. His production has since dipped. 2022 was a more challenging and trying campaign from that standpoint, but it does likely fall more in line with his NFL expectations as a player who is relatively new to the defensive side of the football and will need significant growth to become the player he’s capable of becoming.

On the field, Carter is a fairly raw prospect who needs to work on building out his pass-rush counters and construct more comprehensive plans to defeat opposing tackles. Carter’s preferred rush move is a Euro-step speed rush that looks to force a missed stun punch on the edge before transitioning to a reduced inside shoulder and trying to run the arc. Carter has some bright flashes of inside counters and quickness to cross the face of blockers who try to jump out and greet him in his wide-aligned two-point stance. Some of his best reps come as a slant defender either off the edge to squeeze runs off the backside or to crash inside across the face of a blocker to the play side and uncover in the backfield. These instances allow his linear athleticism to pop and push past lateral contact with overwhelming quickness.

The Black Knights do move Carter around. They’ve asked him intermittently to reduce inside and play in tight alignments but he should be considered a 2-point stance player at the NFL level. Army also charged him with dropping into zone coverages, and while I do feel he is a sufficient level athlete to do this in the NFL, he’s likely better served to avoid these reps in the immediate timeline to allow him to fully focus on developing himself as a pass rusher.

Carter is still clearly a developing talent, however. For his appeal with raw physical tools, he appears guilty of some errant hand placement, ineffective hand power, irregular pad level and leverage, and false steps out of the blocks as a rusher. His play at the point of attack is a phase of his game that will limit him early in his career, as he did not handle pressure or drive blocks with consistent success—he too often got caught with his pads above those of his opponents. Carter’s length is a major advantage but his punch placement negated some of the opportunities he had to really stun and dislodge offensive tackle sets, and as a result, too many of his perimeter rushes were stunted as angles steepened. He’ll need more power up top and better hinges in the lower half to unlock his full potential and be a consistent control player at the point of attack.

Carter is ultimately a developmental prospect who has some clear tools to work with and cannot be coached. That floor as a prospect affords him demand in the draft—he’ll be a commodity for the potential of what he can become, even though I do believe he is not close to realizing that potential any time soon. As such, I’d recommend an early-day-three valuation in order to properly reflect his upside and risk sufficiently.

Top Reasons to Buy In:

  • Undeniable height/weight/speed standout athlete
  • Exponential room for growth in a more football-centric environment
  • Slippery attack player who challenges blockers
  • Super-high intangibles with educational background

Top Reasons For Concern:

  • Does not illustrate polish with instincts of playing the position
  • Lack of leverage and flexibility limit dynamic athleticism
  • Needs dramatic improvement as a pass rusher with his rush counters
  • Functional strength and ability on early downs is a question

Grade: 72.50/100 (fourth-round value)

College Film

2021 Highlights

Andre Carter (#34) vs. Wake Forest (2021)

Andre Carter II’s Fit with the Vikings

Carter is likely viewed as a development project with a high ceiling, given his traits. The Vikings making a larger financial commitment to Carter as a UDFA is a signal they may be willing to carry him on the roster while he develops.

In addition to adding weight, Carter will need to fill out his pass rush toolkit and also improve as a run defender, particularly his ability to set the edge, but also things like improving pad level, play recognition, and being assignment sound. These are all very coachable things Carter can improve to go along with his uncoachable traits. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Carter make good progress this off-season and in training camp in adding weight and continuing to develop his craft, but I would be surprised to see him on the field much this season apart from some special teams duty.

Success for Carter as a rookie would be to first show enough development to make the roster. Becoming a solid contributor on special teams while continuing his development during the regular season would be about as much as could be realistically hoped for from Carter as a rookie. Beyond that, beginning to earn some reps as a pass rusher next season and working his way up the depth chart would be a nice outcome for Carter, who could eventually challenge for a starting job.

He’s a low-risk, high-upside player.


What level will Andre Carter II reach in the NFL?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    (63 votes)
  • 9%
    Top ten in his position
    (58 votes)
  • 38%
    Above average starter
    (239 votes)
  • 20%
    Average starter
    (129 votes)
  • 5%
    Below average starter
    (37 votes)
  • 14%
    He won’t be a starter
    (91 votes)
617 votes total Vote Now