The Denver Broncos are no strangers to unearthing quality players as undrafted college free agents. Former Kansas Jayhawk Chris Harris Jr. has become one of the NFL's best corners and C.J. Anderson has made an impact (when healthy) for the franchise, despite being undrafted out of California several years ago. If he puts in the work and realizes his potential, former Miami Hurricane safety Jamal Carter could be next in line to carry on that tradition with the Broncos.
Name: Jamal Carter
Height: 6'1" Weight: 215
Age: 23 Experience: R
Carter was widely-regarded as one of the most athletic and premier safety prospects in high school. Dozens of collegiate football's top programs were interested in his services, but his final decision came down to LSU and Miami. In the end, the Florida native chose to stay close to home in play for the Hurricanes. Due to a log-jam of talent in the Hurricanes' defensive backfield, Carter was relegated to special teams and reserve duty for his first two seasons. As a junior, Carter finally began to live up to his potential and registered 48 tackles, one interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Prior to his senior season, the Hurricanes cleaned house and eliminated most all of the coaches. It was a long time coming, but being slaughtered by Clemson in the school's worst defeat in their storied history made the decision easy for their athletic department. Under a new coaching regime, Carter finally earned a starting role as a senior and blossomed. He was the team's leading tackler with 85 tackles and finally caught the attention of scouts who had been waiting years to see what the former four-star recruit could do on the field. In his four years with the Hurricanes, Carter amassed 164 tackles, 2 interceptions and ten defended passes.
Really like Miami safety Jamal Carter as a late-rounder/developmental guy. Great toughness. Could be a ST ace.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 4, 2017
The Broncos scouted him heavily through the season, and let him know they were sincerely interested in him at his Pro Day prior to the NFL Draft. Though the Broncos didn't end up selecting him, they were able to reel him in as an undrafted free agent despite having interest from many teams. They liked him so much, they gave him the biggest signing bonus out of any of their UDFA signings in 2017. That investment is no guarantee he will make the team, but it's a sure sign that the team believes they can mold him into a much better player then he showed he was in college.
Posses the desired height and weight teams look for at the position. Has above-average athleticism and range. Fundamentally sound tackler, who shows no hesitation putting in work against the run. Has a knack for sniffing out screens and passes to running backs. Plays with an ultra-aggressive and violent demeanor on the field. Improved leaps and bounds as a senior under a new coaching staff and regime. Quality special teams contributor throughout his career at Miami. Well-respected by Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, each speaking highly of him throughout his senior season. The admiration is mutual, with Carter crediting them with improving his game tremendously.
Has questionable instincts. Doesn't have the long speed to recover if beaten deep. Production doesn't match his physical talent or former recruit status. However, some would argue that he was woefully misused by former Miami head coach Al Golden and defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio. Often lined up at single-high safety, Carter's best fit in the NFL is likely as a strong safety who can play in-the-box or match-up against tight ends.
"After pro day, the Denver guy came up to me and said they really like me, so just be on the lookout for their call." — Carter responding to what teams had the most interest in him after his Pro Day
Unfortunately for Carter, the Denver Broncos have a lot of talent in their defensive backfield. Veteran safeties Darian Stewart and T.J. Ward are locks for the final roster, with 2016 draft picks Justin Simmons and Will Parks having the experience and upper hand for the two reserve spots. It's quite clear that the Broncos believe in Carter, and if the team opts to carry five safeties on their roster it would improve his chances of making the final cut exponentially. If he doesn't make the final roster, he most certainly will be a prime candidate for the practice squad, but I wouldn't be surprised if a team desperate at the position would attempt to sign him to their active roster.
I am a firm believer that Carter was misused in college and has the ability to be a much better pro than college player. I envision him being an in-the-box strong safety who can be an enforcer against the run, but also match-up against tight ends in coverage without issue. If I had to give him a pro comparison, it would be former Broncos safety Sam Brandon, who was asked to do much of the same during his career with the team when Mike Shanahan was coach.