Markell Carter Shouldn't Be Counted out in Patriots' Competition at Pass-Rusher

Randolph CharlotinAnalyst IIMay 5, 2012

Markell Carter (49) worked hard in hopes for a promotion from the practice squad to the active roster.
Markell Carter (49) worked hard in hopes for a promotion from the practice squad to the active roster.Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Just about every Patriot fan has seen the video by now. It’s a silent video clip, like the Oscar-winning movie The Artist. Jean Dujardin won an Academy Award for Best Male Actor in a Leading Role in that film.

Based on the YouTube video, No. 8 was the best male athlete, hands down. There he is, overpowering an offensive tackle before sacking the quarterback. Later, he chases down a running back from the backside of a toss play. Over and over again, Markell Carter makes play after play, dominating the opposition.

For years, fans pleaded to New England head coach Bill Belichick to draft a dominant pass-rusher. When Carter’s name was announced in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL draft, lots of fans scratched their heads and were disappointed. This wasn’t what Patriot Nation was hoping for.

New England had two first-round picks in that draft. They could have moved up a little and selected either North Carolina’s Robert Quinn or Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan. Even after moving out of the first round, the Patriots could have selected Pittsburgh’s Jabaal Sheard or Arizona’s Brooks Reed.

No disrespect to Carter, but a small school project doesn’t compare to a major conference prospect ready to contribute now.

Carter already faced long odds to become an impact player for the Patriots. He hasn’t faced such a high level of competition on a regular basis. He would be making the transition from college defensive end to pro linebacker—a tough jump for any collegian. It’s an even tougher adjustment for the University of Central Arkansas product.

And just as Carter’s chances of moving up the depth chart looked good as Mark Anderson left as a free agent, and Andre Carter remains unsigned, New England selected two pass-rushers in the 2012 NFL draft.

Don’t count Markell Carter out. He’s been a full-time defensive end for Central Arkansas for only his junior and senior seasons. He finished his career with 16.5 sacks and 38.5 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss in his senior season alone.

Not the kind of pass-rush numbers a fan looks for, but to Belichick, who desires an all-around defender over a one-dimensional sack artist, Carter is exactly what Belichick wants.

Carter spent the season on the practice squad, working diligently to get better. He learned from veterans Andre Carter, Anderson, Vince Wilfork, Shawn Ellis and Kyle Love. Carter studied not just his position, but all 11 to understand the defense and what his role will be in it.

The hard work is paying off, even though those outside of the Patriots organization don’t see it.

New England awards a practice player of the week honor after every regular season win. Carter won it seven times according to ESPNBoston’s Mike Reiss. It was the most by any player on the team.

The selfless approach hasn’t gone unnoticed. Carter had opportunities to leave as NFL teams can sign players to their active roster from another team’s practice squad. Carter decided to stay. For his loyalty and hard work, the Patriots gave Carter a substantial raise, according to a report in The Boston Herald.

Carter is still studying, adding moves to his pass-rush arsenal and getting stronger. Though he seems to be near the bottom of the depth chart, Carter is using the same high-energy, relentless approach seen in the video off the field to crack the rotation in 2012.

Chandler Jones will be in the spotlight this year. Jake Bequette will have a chance to showcase why some compare him to Minnesota’s Jared Allen.

Meanwhile, Markell Carter spent a season working behind the scenes for his upcoming opportunity. He wants to be the best male athlete in a new video.

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