Andre Carter II to Be Eligible for 2023 NFL Draft; Army LB Is No. 29 on B/R Big Board

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 20, 2022

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 10:  Army Black Knights linebacker Andre Carter II (34) warms up prior to the 123rd Army Navy game on December 10, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Army linebacker Andre Carter II is expected to be eligible for the 2023 NFL draft thanks to a provision in the Omnibus Appropriations Measure.

ESPN's Pete Thamel reported amended language was added to the Congressional bill and filed Tuesday. The changes will provide Carter and any other current academy upperclassmen at Army, Navy and Air Force the ability to defer their military service for the chance to play professional sports.

Thamel noted the bill is "expected to pass this week."

Carter is a potential first-round draft pick who is the No. 29 overall player and No. 6 edge-rusher on B/R NFL Scouting Department's big board.

Thamel previously noted athletes have been able to delay service requirements since 2019 if they had the opportunity to play professionally, but that seemed to be changing before the new language that permits a legacy exception.

The language said the inability to apply for such an exception "shall only apply with respect to a cadet or midshipman who first enrolls in the United States Military Academy, the United States Naval Academy, or the United States Air Force Academy on or after June 1, 2021."

Carter had the opportunity to transfer to powerhouse college football programs in the past and perhaps cash in on his name, image and likeness, but Thamel reported his family never even gave such a path "serious consideration."

That was one reason they were so upset before Tuesday's amended language. His mother, Melissa Carter, said:

"Here's the thing that's so painful. You guide your son to do the right things because it's right. And it's really disappointing that it's not reciprocated. This has been his goal since childhood, to go into the NFL. Every step of the way, that was on track, until we saw this article. That's the part that's disappointing. It's not surprising to see so many people transfer, opt out or switch teams. When loyalty is not reciprocated, that stings."

Army coach Jeff Monken echoed those sentiments.

"It's just kind of pulling the rug out from under him," he said. "It's not fair. It's not fair to him. He was loyal to this team and institution. He could have left and he didn't. He still wants to serve. It's not that he doesn't want to serve. He wants to pursue the NFL and play, and then serve."

Yet Thamel reported Carter's situation "rippled quickly through Washington, D.C.," which led to the expedited process that resulted in the amended language.

Members of Congress such as Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell were all involved.

Carter's parents, Melissa and Andre, told ESPN:

"Thank you to the members of congress who stepped up, spoke out and worked expeditiously in support of Andre and other service academy cadets and midshipmen who made decisions in reliance on the 2019 policy allowing deferral of service. The goodness we saw in people this past week will forever be imprinted upon us."

Attention turns to the NFL draft process as the 6'7" pass-rusher attempts to make an impression on teams through the scouting combine, Senior Bowl and interviews.

His breakthrough season came in 2021 when he tallied 41 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, two passes defended, one interception and one fumble recovery. He helped lead Army to an Armed Forces Bowl win over the SEC's Missouri with a sack to end that season.

That put Carter firmly under the spotlight in 2022, and he responded with 41 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and two passes defended in 10 games. He also posted four tackles in a double-overtime win over Navy.

The B/R NFL Scouting Department listed him as the best speed-rusher in the draft, and he has the chance to become Army's third player drafted since 1969. It has not had a first-round pick since 1947, but Carter could change that.