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Duke cornerback Michael Carter II could add versatility to the Chiefs

29 Days of Draftmas continues with a cornerback who can play in the slot, at safety and in the box.

NCAA Football: Miami at Duke James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

A very Merry Draftmas to you!

We continue our tradition of profiling an NFL Draft prospect every day in April, leading up to the NFL Draft on April 29th. Every day, you’ll get a prospect profile that includes how they would fit with the Kansas City Chiefs.

This offseason, we’ve seen the Chiefs pursue a few players in free agency that they weren’t able to sign. With good reason, most of the focus has been on the offensive tackle and wide receiver the Chiefs targeted. But the Chiefs also went after a slot cornerback, suggesting they plan to move L’Jarius Sneed to the boundary. That may have signaled general manager Brett Veach’s plan for a draft that is heavy with slot corners. So here’s a mid-round prospect with big upside at the position.

Michael Carter II, cornerback

NCAA Football: Duke at Northwestern Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

5’9” | 184 lbs | Duke

Douglasville, GA

Expected draft range: Early day 3

One-sentence bio: Three-year starter and three-time Academic All-ACC who landed a third-team All-ACC nod in 2020

One-sentence scouting report: Physical, versatile cornerback with box and safety experience who has good speed and burst to drive on underneath routes.

One play:

How he fits in Kansas City: Carter is an incredibly versatile defender who has quality reps playing in man coverage from the slot, as a top-down safety in single-high looks and in the box defending interior run gaps. His smaller frame gives him some problems at the catch point against bigger receivers, but he plays like a much bigger player when he’s in press coverage or driving downhill to make a tackle in the flat.

Carter is also a very high-IQ player who quickly reads pattern distributions and transitions to rob developing routes. In this way, he would fit in perfectly as a middle-of-the-field lurk defender for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. His versatility would also perfectly match the Chiefs’ rotating coverage schemes — and he would still be an excellent blitzer and run defender from the slot. This would give Spagnuolo the comfort level he needs to move Sneed to the boundary.

If the Chiefs are looking for a slot cornerback to contribute as a rookie, this is the draft for it. In other drafts, Carter would project as one of the top slot corners — but because of this year’s over-abundance at the position, he will fall. He needs some development with his footwork — and his size is something that will put him at a natural disadvantage against certain types of receivers. However, he exactly fits what the Chiefs are looking for in a slot defender. He could be a steal in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft.

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