Outside of Javonte Williams, Najee Harris, and Travis Etienne, the 2021 running back class seems to be thin. The aforementioned big three running backs this year are clear featured RB1s at the next level, but there is one stud outside of that group who I believe can be a featured RB1. That guy is UNC’s Michael Carter. Mack Brown’s Tar Heels had a killer rushing attack on the backs of Javonte Williams and Carter in 2021 and they both have bright NFL futures. Williams has proven that he will be great, but Michael Carter might just have what it takes to be great himself. Carter has about 150 more carries under his belt than Williams but his style is more elusive and he doesn’t take half the big hits Javonte Williams did.
Michael Carter stands at 5’8″ 199 lbs so he doesn’t have the height you’d desire when looking at an RB1. His weight is toned and fits nicely in his frame so that isn’t a concern. He ran a 4.50u forty yard dash at his pro day, so thats a pretty decent speed. 5’8″ frame is the biggest concern with Carter so his play-style will be extra important.
Michael Carter is a shifty running back who doesn’t take many big hits but isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder when he needs to. He is an above average receiver who plays with urgency in his route running. He shows quick feet and sinks his hips into his cuts. His play-style projects nicely to the NFL.
Michael Carter could be a quality RB1 in the NFL in the right scheme. He needs to be in a running scheme that blows open big holes with athletic lineman so an outside zone blocking scheme is probably the best fit. Hill is also a one cut downhill runner who does his best work in the open field.
The Falcons have Mike Davis at running back too but they are gonna need someone that Arthur Smith can develop for the future. Carter would thrive in a scheme like Atlanta’s
Pittsburgh is a team that would be able to get the most out of Carter and his running style. He would be able to be the lead back with Anthony McFarland being the compliment. Carter is polished enough to contribute from day one and the Steelers will need that for Big Ben’s final hoo-rah.