Competitiveness: Carter is a very tough runner. The way he keeps his legs driving and pumping really makes you believe that he cherishes every yard he gains. Even when nothing is there, Carter will put his head down and take as much as he can muscle out. He’s a vocal leader who leads by example and gets his teammates fired up after big plays. Enjoys carrying the load and putting a team on his shoulders.
Vision/Patience: Carter’s initial vision could be better. Sometimes he doesn’t see the hole and will bounce it outside prematurely. That is also a sign of poor patience. I like his vision in traffic much better. He can easily find the cutback lane or a seam to gain just a couple more yards out of nothing. Vision and patience both need work at the next level. A good running back coach can greatly improve these areas.
Agility/Acceleration: Better agility than you would expect from a player of his build. Carter uses a nice jump cut to gain a burst to the outside or into a cutback lane. Reminds me of Cedric Benson in this regard. He has a nice burst through the hole and when he’s hitting it with a decisive cut, Carter can really get up to speed quickly. When it comes to long speed, Carter takes a few steps to gain steam, but that isn’t his game. He’s fast enough to get outside, but he isn’t going to run away from anybody. You would be better served to keep him inside for the majority of his carries.
Power/Balance: This is Carter’s greatest strength. He’s a very strong back with an array of power moves when he’s carrying the ball. He’s built like a truck. His legs are tree trunks and his arms are like an action figures. This dude is absolutely shredded. If you’ve seen Thomas Jones or Michael Pittman arms, then you know what I’m talking about. Carter will hit the hole running behind his pads. Even if you make contact, he uses his incredible balance to stay on his feet. When he’s in the open field, Carter will dip his shoulder and drive the defender into the ground. I would like him to always run with power, but he’s had various injuries throughout his time at Syracuse, so you can understand why he might shy away from contact when it’s not absolutely necessary.
Passing Game: Carter’s contributions in the passing game are where he can grow the most as an NFL player. Carter doesn’t have bad hands, but he’s not a natural pass catcher. He will drop some passes that are very catch able, but it looks to be a concentration issue. He lacks the skills necessary to be a threat in the passing game as a receiver. You will need a 3rd down back to pair with Carter. As a blocker, Carter has improved this area over his 4 years at Syracuse. While he’s not a good technician now, Carter has the physical strength to keep blockers off his quarterback. He will wear you out with his sudden pop and strength. Carter will need to be more patient and use proper hand placement in the NFL if he wants to be an effective blocker.
Intangibles: A team captain who’s considered a good leader in the locker room and on the field. Carter had different injuries earlier in his career (Dislocated Hip, 2007 – Only played 4 games in 2008) and worked very hard to get back to where he was. Carter did have some off the field problems before the 2009 season but it was a fight stemming from a thrown snowball. There’s nothing to worry about.
Overall Stock: This year’s running back class is very deep and diverse. What’s your style? Do you need finesse back, 3rd down back, a backup to your starter, or a new bell cow to carry your load? Carter fits as a guy who can be your backup to a Jamaal Charles or your bell cow back for a power running team. His stock will go with his value to your team. After Mark Ingram and Mikel Leshoure, Carter may be the next guy who can carry the majority of the load. After the first tier of running backs (Ingram, Leshoure, Ryan Williams), I like Delone Carter to lead the next group that includes Demarco Murray, Kendall Hunter and Daniel Thomas. I have him graded as a solid 3rd round pick, but with the depth this year, I could see Carter lasting until the 4th round. Anything after that would be a complete steal in my eyes. Carter is a future 1,000-yard back in the mold of Thomas Jones. You’ll need a good 3rd down back with some speed to fully complement Carter’s skills, but he can be one of those mid-round backs who end up starting within a year.
Comparison: Thomas Jones