After a solid season in terms of production from the starting cornerbacks in 2014, the Lions knew they didn’t need to find another starter in the offseason. However, they needed to find a guy who could potentially take over for the 34-year old Rashean Mathis when his days in Detroit were done, as well as add depth to the secondary. So when the Lions saw that the young, physical cornerback from Stanford, Alex Carter, was still available in the third round, they knew what they had to do, trading up to select him with the 80th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
And at only 20 years of age, Alex Carter was the youngest player drafted in 2015 and will likely be the youngest player on an NFL roster this season.
“I was kind of hoping it would happen,” Carter mentioned to Detroit Lions Pro when asked if he thought the Lions would draft him. “I mean, they did talk to me. I knew they were interested.”
The Lions also made an evident push to draft intelligent and ambitious athletes, following the precedent head coach Jim Caldwell has set during his time in Detroit. And during pre-draft visits, Carter mentioned how the organization dissected each player to figure out their true personality and character.
“They [the Lions organization] were trying to get a feel for who I was as a person first. The tape really speaks for itself. Teams and the personnel look at the tape and judge you based off that on the field, but when they see you in person they are trying to figure out who you are, where you come from,” Carter expressed.
However, connections have made the process easier for the new Lion, including prior relationships with second-rounder Ameer Abdullah and fifth-rounder Quandre Diggs.
“I’ve spoken to Ameer Abdullah a couple times over the past few months, and also Quandre Diggs. I met him [Diggs] at the combine as we both shared the same coach. I’m looking forward to playing with him. I think we’re going to ball out.”
Although Lions’ General Manager Martin Mayhew mentioned that Carter will start off playing at cornerback, the Stanford graduate is open to playing safety, where many NFL analysts see him better suited at.
“I’ve always played corner, that’s where my Dad played, but I would be open to playing anything,” Carter mentioned. “Whatever spot the coaches need me to play at. I just want to help the team win. And if that means corner or safety, I’ll do either one.”
Measuring in at six feet tall, the Lions love Carter’s size, allowing him to play press against the physical wide receivers in the NFC.
“My strongest asset is my physicality at the line, my tackling ability, and tendency of finishing plays,” Carter mentioned to Detroit Lions Pro. “My length and my physicality are my greatest assets.”
Nevertheless, something scouts have questioned is Carter’s ability to break on the ball as well as his anticipation and read the quarterback’s eyes. Carter only recorded two interceptions in his college career and often wasted many other opportunities.
But Carter knows this and has been working tirelessly to improve his timing and ball skills.
“I’m out there on the field working on my ball skills, consistently catching balls,” he mentioned.
He also talked about the importance of a strong mentality to go with physicality, stating “I go into games mentally prepared, go in calm and cool. Mental preparation is just as important as physical.”
Yet, Carter also stressed the importance of enjoying life, for example, playing other sports, especially now that his new, busy NFL life is rapidly approaching.
“I play all kinds of different sports, I play golf and tennis.” Carter said. “My favorite sport to watch besides football is soccer.”
And, as a matter of fact, he’s already played a round of golf with teammate Rashean Mathis, a sign of early ambition and a bright future for both Alex Carter and the Detroit Lions organization.