Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers: T.J. Carter is the ideal slot CB

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The Green Bay Packers already have a talented, young secondary. Could they continue to add to that group in the 2021 NFL Draft?

As they head into the 2020 season, the Green Bay Packers have a young, talented secondary led by starting cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Kevin King, with Chandon Sullivan penciled in as the starting nickel cornerback. 

With Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage at safety, the Packers have the makings of an elite secondary. Green Bay Packers head coach, Matt LaFleur recently praised the team’s young secondary while talking to reporters.

“First of all, we’ve got a pretty talented defensive back room,” LaFleur said. “There’s a lot of competition there. You look at our starters, in particular, I feel as good about that group as any in the National Football League.”

“They’ve still got to go out there and do it on a daily basis, but they’re guys who love to compete, they’re young and they’re hungry.”

The question remains, who steps up at cornerback if an injury were to occur? Josh Jackson is entering his third year in the league and is off to a solid start in training camp. Ka’Dar Hollman is lightning quick and is entering his second year in the league. 

With King set to become a free agent following the season, it’s fair to assume that general manager, Brian Gutekunst will look to address the cornerback position in the offseason.

The 2021 NFL Draft boasts a talented cornerback class and one of those talented cornerbacks is T.J. Carter out of Memphis. 

Carter burst onto the scene at Memphis as a true freshman in 2017. He set the program record for interceptions in a season by a freshman (5). He also broke up 16 passes and recorded 69 tackles. 

As a sophomore, Carter recorded 68 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions and 14 pass deflections. In 2019, Carter recorded 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, and broke up seven passes. His season was cut short after he suffered an injury against Cincinnati in November. 

“Before his injury against Cincinnati, TJ Carter was having a much better junior year than he did in his sophomore campaign,” Christian Fowler, the lead writer for GoTigers247.com, said.

“Carter had a lot better supporting cast around him last season, and he seemed much more confident. Although he still wasn’t as good as his outstanding freshman season, Carter was still one of the better DB’s in the AAC last year.”

Carter is one of the best cornerbacks in the AAC. Fowler said that the intensity Carter plays with is his greatest strength. 

“In my opinion, his intensity and leadership,” Fowler said. “Carter became the best player in Memphis’ secondary in his freshman season, and he had to become a leader quickly. Carter sets the tone for the entire secondary, and he knows what everyone in the defensive backfield is supposed to do on every play.”

Carter is the definition of a sticky, man-to-man cornerback. The senior cornerback is fast. He has good footwork and is able to run stride for stride, staying in the wide receivers’ hip pocket. According to Pro Football Focus, Carter is one of the most battle-tested cornerbacks in college football. 

“There may not be another cornerback in the 2021 draft class as battle-tested as Carter by the end of his career. He’s already seen 212 targets in his three seasons with the Tigers, allowing only 106 of them to be completed.”

As AAC quarterbacks have found out, testing Carter is never a good thing. He has exceptional ball skills. For his career, he has 37 pass deflections and seven interceptions. This past season he didn’t record an interception, due to the fact that quarterbacks threw away from him. 

“I think Carter has underrated ball skills,” Fowler said. “After five interceptions in his first season, many opposing quarterbacks started throwing away from him. If Carter is back at full strength next season and quarterbacks want to test him, it’s likely something they will regret.”

Carter is an undersized cornerback (5’11”, 189 pounds), but that doesn’t stop him from sticking his nose in against the run. He’ll have the occasional whiff, however, he’s proven not to be a liability in run support. 

“I think Carter is pretty solid in run support,” Fowler said. “He isn’t the biggest cornerback by far, but he isn’t scared to come up and tackle opposing running backs. He plays pretty fearlessly, which has allowed him to make some big stops in the running game throughout his career.”

Carter is likely going to be selected late in round three or early in round four during the 2021 NFL Draft. That could be right about the time the Green Bay Packers are looking to invest in the cornerback position, barring what happens with King’s contract.

The Green Bay Packers already have a talented, young secondary. Adding a player like Carter, with his skill-set could help Green Bay’s defense reach new heights. 

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