After the team lost Larry Ogunjobi to an ankle injury in the 2021 Wild Card win over the Raiders, the Cincinnati Bengals have been reeling for able interior line depth. Ogunjobi made the most of a one-year deal that year, racking up 49 tackles, seven sacks and 12 tackles for loss—the latter two being career-highs for the defensive lineman.
Since his departure, the team’s brain trust has been looking for an able replacement to team inside with B.J. Hill. Cincinnati grabbed versatile University of Florida defensive lineman, Zachary Carter in the third round as a solution to the need for productive rotational snaps.
As a rookie, Carter did a little bit of everything, with the initial hope being that he would be a backup edge defender. It came with mixed results, as he notched 0.5 sacks, 23 tackles, a pass defended, and a tackle for loss. He added another eight tackles in the postseason.
In 2023, the team is looking for Carter taking a big step in his second year, as he fully commits to being an inside defender.
- Height: 6’4”
- Weight: 310 pounds
- Age: 24
- College: Florida
- Hometown: Tampa, FL
- Experience: 1 year accrued
Carter is in the second year of his four-year rookie contract, with a salary cap hit of $1,154,531.
At Florida, Carter lined up all over the defensive line with varying forms of production. He showed immense growth with the Gators, going from not notching a single sack as a freshman, all the way to 7.5 in 2021.
He also showed prowess in batting the ball at the line with two passes defended in each season played in college. In entering the pros, he fit more of the mold of the Marvin Lewis-style edge players, with a bigger size (290 playing weight in 2022) and solid length.
Here’s a blurb from Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, on his draft outlook:
“Carter is viewed as position versatile, with the ability to play defensive end in an odd or even front. His skilled hands and quick feet make him a perfect candidate to move inside in nickel packages as a rusher. Some evaluators like his girth and envision him adding weight to become a full-time three-technique in a one-gapping front. Carter possesses the anchor for the point of attack, but needs to improve his stack-and-shed technique to make more plays in the run game.”
Additionally, here’s the Relative Athletic Score of Carter as a defensive Tackle, from Kent Lee Platte, AKA “MathBomb”.
Zachary Carter is a DT prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored a 8.1 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 278 out of 1459 DT from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/ISSiQ6eBcO #RAS pic.twitter.com/sigdtWGhMP— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 27, 2022
He has reportedly put on 20 pounds of muscle this offseason, showing his commitment to the process of the full-time move inside. The hope is that with experience, added bulk and continued high-level tutoring from the great Lou Anarumo will bring about a renaissance akin to the 2021 pairing of Hill and Ogunjobi.
The Bengals showed their trust in the development of Carter, making no big investments on three-technique linemen in either the draft or free agency. For Carter, it’s all about putting the respectable athletic profile, versatility, and added weight to provide reliable and productive snaps this year.
95-100 percent. Carter is very likely lock with things right now, but there’s always a twinge of doubt when you’re technically talking about a backup player. Still, he’s showed some good things on the field this spring and summer, while the Bengals remained committed to his development.