Unheralded Carter Cardinals’ next star?

Jun 18, 2012, 4:17 PM | Updated: 5:38 pm

If you asked people which young player was going to
breakout and become a star for the Arizona Cardinals, the
names that would come up would be Patrick Peterson,
Michael Floyd and Daryl Washington, among others.

One name you likely wouldn’t hear — at least early in the
conversation — is David Carter.

The defensive lineman was taken in the sixth round of the
2011 NFL Draft out of UCLA, and had a solid season,
tallying 16 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble in a
reserve role.

However, the guys at ProFootballFocus.com think Carter is much
better than the stats would indicate, tabbing him as a
“Secret Superstar” heading into 2012.

Considering his seamless transition, looking completely at
home in the heart of the Cardinals’ defense, you would
have been excused for thinking that when the Cardinals
lost Dan Williams to injury Carter would have vaulted into
a starting slot. As it happened, Arizona made the somewhat
puzzling decision of replacing Williams-lost to a broken
left arm-with Nick Eason. The former Steeler had been
playing as a reserve defensive end for the Cardinals but
was vaulted ahead of Carter into the starting lineup at
nose tackle. This left Carter in the same role he had
occupied behind Williams, but rather than getting
downhearted at being passed up by a journeyman, he kept
his head down and maintained his early-season form.

His late-season form, however, is what should have
Cardinal fans excited as he put in his best games in run
defense against the 49ers, Browns, and Bengals during the
final month of the season. In that trio of games, Carter
took advantage of some favorable matchups to record half
of his defensive stops from the season (five of his 10) in
those three games. Carter made three tackles for losses
against the AFC North pairings, but perhaps more
impressive was the way in which he got the better of
Jonathan Goodwin of the 49ers, one of the better run
blocking centers in the league.

Well that all sounds great, doesn’t it?

In truth, Carter may still find it tough to get consistent
playing time. The Cardinals still have veterans Darnell
Dockett and Calais Campbell, and are pleased with the
development and recovery of Williams, a first-round pick
in 2010.

And, it’s worth noting, Williams was a ‘secret superstar’ last season, so
being listed among these ranks does not guarantee success.

But at the very least one should feel optimistic, as the
Cardinals’ defensive line — with the names you know and
some you may not — could end up being one of the NFL’s
best.

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