This Army player could be the first service academy student drafted in the first round of the NFL draft since the 1940s
Andre Carter II has NFL draft experts’ attention as he enters his senior season.
One of the top prospects in the 2023 NFL draft comes from a school that scouts rarely watch closely: West Point. Andre Carter II, an Army linebacker, could be the first service academy student taken in the first round in the Super Bowl era.
Here’s some background on the unexpected college football star, including what draft experts are saying about his chances:
Who is Andre Carter II?
Carter is an edge rusher for the Army who is entering his senior season. He was originally recruited as a tight end, according to The Analyst.
Last season, Carter “led the nation in pass rush win rate at 37.7%,” The Analyst reported, and had 15 adjusted sacks.
Army fan site Black Knights Nation reported in May that Carter is coming off the best pass-rushing season in his school’s history.
“Carter was the first Army player to earn Associated Press All-American honors (third team) since Mike Mayweather in 1990,” the article said.
Can Army players enter the NFL draft?
In the past, football players at military schools had to put their NFL dreams on hold after graduation in order to complete service requirements. But “in 2019, a new policy was enacted that (allows) this exclusive set of players who have a desire to play professional football to defer their service,” The Analyst reported.
In other words, Carter has more options than his talented predecessors. In 1964, star quarterback Roger Staubach, who attended the Naval Academy, remained undrafted until a very late round because teams knew he owed the Navy five years of his time, according to Black Knight Nation.
What are NFL draft experts saying about Andre Carter II?
One of Carter’s most notable fans is Mike Renner from Pro Football Focus. He’s tweeted regularly about the Army player’s potential to be taken high in the NFL draft.
“He’s got the size, length and athleticism to work his way into the first round conversation,” Renner said in May.
Carter currently sits at no. 11 on PFF’s list of the top 100 prospects who will likely enter the 2023 draft.
The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman has also shouted out Carter’s skills. He recently named the Army linebacker to his 2022 “Freaks List.”
“What a gem Army found ... in Carter,” Feldman wrote. “Army coaches say that when Carter’s doing change of direction work in the summer, he finished in the top three with their skill guys.”
Although members of Sports Illustrated’s draft team gave Carter a second-round grade this summer, they also noted that he’s made a habit of becoming “bigger, stronger (and) faster each season.”
“He arrived to West Point as a tall, skinny kid and is set to depart as a much more mature player both physically and mentally,” Sports Illustrated reported.
How high have military players been drafted in the past?
In the Super Bowl era, the highest a player from a service academy has been drafted is in the second round. The Green Bay Packers picked up Mike Wahle from the Naval Academy in the second round in 1998.
Prior to the current era, a few players from military academies did get snatched up in the first round: Felix “Doc” Blanchard in 1946, Tex Coulter in 1947 and Glenn Davis in 1947, according to Black Knight Nation.