With Darius Slay and Rashean Mathis under contract until 2016, the Lions appear to be set at their top two corner positions for the near future. The starting tandem enjoyed a productive season last year, both finishing in the top 20 among all cornerbacks in the league according to Pro Football Focus.
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If Slay or Mathis goes down to injury though, there is a bevy of slot/nickel options available, all with question marks. Beyond that, Mathis enters the season at 34 years of age. The Lions think they may have found an eventual replacement in junior Alex Carter from Stanford, who they drafted in the third round of this year’s draft. Let’s take a closer look at the former Cardinal through the lens of an NFL scout to find out.
After evaluating three games (USC, Washington, Maryland), I gave Carter a 6.4 J (late third round).
Here’s an excerpt from his scouting report:
Alex Carter, CB – Stanford
Height: 6000 Weight: 196 40 Time: 4.51
Good height and weight to match up with bigger receivers. Physical. Fights hard through run blocks to help set the edge and is willing to take on ball carriers. Keys and diagnoses quickly. Solid jam technique to re-route receivers at the line. Closes quickly on the ball from off man and zone coverage and takes sound angles. Fluid hips. Instinctive – good feel for receivers moving in and out of his area. Solid tackler. Competitive – consistently gives good effort.
Average long speed and feet – struggles to recover if he gets beat initially. Is high cut and lacks suddenness in his change of direction – struggles mirroring quick-cutting receivers throughout their routes in man coverage. Needs to tighten up his footwork – overextends and is slow to transition out his pedal when breaking forward on the ball. Allows inside release too often on slant routes. Lacks good ball skills – only two career interceptions.
The son of Tom Carter, former first round pick for the Washington Redskins, Alex has 33 career starts over three seasons at Stanford. Though he meets the height and weight minimums to play on the outside in the Lions’ heavy press man scheme, Carter will need to continue to refine his jam technique at the line. Given his speed limitations and lack of suddenness, he will need to win early or he will be exposed in man coverage at the next level. Early on, he may find some success in nickel and dime zone packages, as he’s at his best breaking on the all when everything is in front of him. A solid tackler and run defender, Carter ultimately might maximize his skillset by moving to safety if he can add size. His ceiling is a number two outside corner in year two or three with his floor being a number four back-up corner.