The Road to 53: OLB Andre Carter’s Skills Aren’t Overhyped

Dec 10, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Army Black Knights outside linebacker Andre Carter II (34) reacts after a play against the Navy Midshipmen during the first half of the 123rd Army-Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA Today Sports

The Vikings roster is just about set for training camp this summer, and with that, the offseason moves past the roster construction phase and into the roster evaluation phase.

As we get our first glimpses of the Vikings roster in action throughout the summer, it’s time to evaluate which players should be candidates to make the final 53-man roster during training camp. Today, we continue the “Road to 53” by discussing OLB Andre Carter.


Nov 26, 2022; Amherst, Massachusetts, USA; Army Black Knights outside linebacker Andre Carter II (34) warms up before a game against the Massachusetts Minutemen at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Carter’s path to the NFL is about as unconventional as it gets. Coming out of high school, he wasn’t a ranked recruit by any of 24/7 Sports, ESPN, On3, or Rivals. He also seemed destined for a life outside of football after committing to Army.

Carter’s freshman season with the Black Knights also happened to be the 2020 Covid season, further adding to an already complicated path to the NFL. He made the most of it though, appearing in nine games for Army, recording 14 tackles, including a sack, along with an interception and forced fumble. Carter helped the Black Knights lead an elite defense that carried them to a 9-3 record and a No. 22 ranking midway through the season.

A full offseason in the program proved to be incredibly helpful for Carter, and he exploded onto the scene in 2021. He played 12 games for Army that season, and he pressured opposing quarterbacks a whopping 59 times, recording 17 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks. Once again, Army ranked among the top defenses in the country and won the Armed Forces Bowl against Missouri. Carter also became the first All-American out of West Point in 31 years, being named to the Third-Team.

However, injuries and adjustments from opposing offenses seemed to slow Carter down in 2022. His numbers were slashed down to just 23 pressures over 10 games, and he finished the season with only 4.5 sacks. Along with the All-American’s lowered numbers, Army’s success took a step back, finishing the season 6-6 and missing out on a bowl game.

With the lowered production in 2022, Carter went into the Senior Bowl and Combine needing to prove himself to NFL teams that he could still be the same athletic freak that he was in 2021. Unfortunately, he was unable to do so, particularly at the Combine, putting together a 40-yard dash of just 4.84 seconds.

As a result of a disappointing 2022 season and poor draft process in the spring, a once-consensus Day Two pick fell entirely out of the draft, and the Vikings were able to scoop him up as an undrafted free agent.

How Carter Can Impact the 2023 Vikings

Purple Headlines
Sep 18, 2021; West Point, New York, USA; Army Black Knights outside linebacker Andre Carter (34) lines up during the first half against the UConn Huskies at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Technique as a pass rusher can certainly be taught, but 6’7″ along with some great length cannot. The 2021 numbers shouldn’t be considered a fluke, either. Sure, Carter bombed his workout at the combine, but those numbers shouldn’t be taken at face value considering what he put on tape while with the Black Knights.

Additionally, EDGE looks like it could be a position of need for the Vikings if not in 2023, then definitely in 2024. Danielle Hunter still doesn’t have a contract extension, which could impact his status for training camp in just one week. D.J. Wonnum is also entering a contract year, and Za’Darius Smith has already been traded.

As discussed in Ivan Pace’s profile, Brian Flores has a knack for utilizing young, athletic linebackers in his defenses. Even of the undrafted variety, there is a strong history of such players seeing extensive playing time under Flores while he was head coach in Miami. There is room for Carter to make an impact with this Vikings roster.

Obstacles in His Way

OLB Andre Carter
Army’s Andre Carter during pro day at West Point March 16, 2023. Army Football Pro Day

Even if he was a more athletic player during the season than at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, questions still remain as to whether or not Carter can actually get all of that speed back in just a few short months. Additionally, he is a very raw player that likely will take at least a year or two before he truly reaches his potential.

The good thing about that, though, is that Carter still has youth on his side. He turned 23 years old in March, and he is the youngest OLB on the Vikings roster. Even still, that may make Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and the Vikings coaching staff feel more comfortable with trying to stash him on the practice squad and give him extra developmental time before testing him on the field.

With other players like Hunter, Patrick Jones, and perhaps even Luiji Vilain above him on the depth chart, it could take some time for Carter to show what he can do at the NFL level.

The Prediction

Dec 10, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Army Black Knights outside linebacker Andre Carter II (34) reacts after a play against the Navy Midshipmen during the first half of the 123rd Army-Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA Today Sports

As the saying goes, money talks. The Vikings handed Carter a considerable amount of money that is rarely ever seen for an undrafted free agent. This indicates that they have faith in Carter to be a productive player on the field for them, and it seems safe to say that he has a strong chance of making the 53-man roster. With Wonnum’s final year of his contract approaching, we could see Minnesota swap the UDFA in for their 2020 fourth-round pick.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.