Jets’ 24-Year-Old Goes Viral After Unexpected Guarantee

Michael Carter II

Getty New York Jets defensive back Michael Carter II in 2022.

One of the more underrated New York Jets prospects is nickel specialist Michael Carter II, who plays a key role in Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich’s NYJ defense.

Quietly, “MC2” has become consistent and reliable for his age — just turned 24 on March 8 — and rarely does he brag about or comment publicly on his game. However, on March 30, Carter let loose unexpectedly, sounding off on Twitter with a statement that quickly went viral among fans.

“Still underrated…” Carter voiced. “I’ll be the best nickel in the league in ‘23 the work is gonna show.” The tweet is currently nearing 2,000 likes and 100.5K views.

Not long after, Carter provided somewhat of an explanation, writing: “Pops always said growing up, give them no choice but to play you, start you, say you’re the best, etc. . So ima make sure it’s not even a debate.”

Jets’ Michael Carter II Took Major Strides in 2022

In all honesty, Carter’s rookie year was rough at times. The DB showed a ton of promise, but playing alongside cornerbacks like Bryce Hall and Brandin Echols — among others — MC2 was hit for 595 yards through the air and a 75.9% completion rate according to Pro Football Focus.

Now, this still ranked better than Hall and Echols to be fair, but it wasn’t great. His 56.0 coverage grade reflected that, and there was plenty of room for improvement heading into 2022.

To his credit, Carter made noticeable strides inside a stronger unit. With Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed Jr. shutting down the outside, MC2 was only required to do his job, and he did it well with a strong 72.2 coverage grade on PFF (third behind Gardner and Reed for the entire defense) and a lowered 70.9% completion rate.

Admittedly, his yardage against was still a bit higher than he’d probably like it to be — a team-high 544 through the air — but he only allowed one touchdown all season and snagged his first two interceptions of his career to make up for some of the catches.

PFF also credited Carter with 27 key defensive stops as a tackler, which ranked fifth for the entire defense behind LB C.J. Mosley, LB Quincy Williams, DT Quinnen Williams and S Jordan Whitehead. On a similar note, his missed tackle rate has hovered around 11.5% over his first two NFL campaigns, which is slightly above average for the cornerback position — in a good way.

Can Jets’ Michael Carter II Really Turn Into the NB1 of the NFL?

As for his leaguewide goal, MC2 isn’t far off from keeping his promise according to PFF. If you sort by cornerbacks who lined up in the slot for 300 or more snaps in 2022, few were graded higher than Carter.

Buffalo Bills’ Taron Johnson, Cleveland Browns’ Greg Newsome II, and Houston Texans’ Tavierre Thomas were all graded better than Carter in coverage, but worse overall. Only Kansas City Chiefs veteran L’Jarius Sneed was ranked better at the nickel position in terms of overall grade on PFF last season (77.7 compared to 74.3) — he was also better in coverage with marks of 75.7.

Sneed is as good a nickel as there is in the modern-day NFL and he’ll certainly be tough to beat, but if MC2 is currently No. 2, the No. 1 spot is obviously attainable after another year in the league.

With Gardner and Reed on the outside, it’s definitely easy to overlook Carter. His viral message summed up in one word: Don’t.

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