Meet the Vikings’ Rookie Pass Rusher Who Cheered for the Bears and Dreams of Sacking Aaron Rodgers

NCAA Football: Army at Troy
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is chock-full of long and strong players, yet Andre Carter II is still going to stand out.

The Vikings’ rookie pass rusher stands at a towering 6’7″ and has unusually long arms, a desirable trait for someone in his line of work. Unfortunately, he’s working through an injury that will sideline him for the early days of training camp. As an UDFA, Carter needs all the reps he can get, especially since the competition for a depth edge rusher role is going to be intense.

Nevertheless, fans have reason to be encouraged by what the former Army pass rusher can offer the Vikings.

The Vikings’ Rookie Pass Rusher: UDFA Andre Carter II

During the 2021 season, Andre Carter II put up some monstrous numbers. Anytime a defender piles up 14.5 sacks, 17 TFLs, and an INT people are going to take notice.

Vikings Hand Out Historic Contract to Undrafted Free Agent
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 2022 season brought a fresh set of challenges and his production decreased. He picked up just 3.5 sacks and 7.5 TFLs, trailing his previous highs by a considerable amount. In the end, Carter ended up slipping out of the draft, which is what allowed the Vikings to scoop him up in undrafted free agency.

For a whopping $340k in guaranteed money, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah convinced the pass rusher to eschew other offers in favor of the one bringing him to the State of Hockey. Clearly, the Vikings’ GM didn’t want to miss out on the upside that Carter offers.

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

Leading up to the draft, Carter did a fascinating interview Vikings fans will be interested in checking out. He speaks with Mike Florio and Chris Simms from PFT. In that interview, Carter notes that he grew up as a Bears fan, a fact that will raise a few eyebrows since Chicago is a division rival. For whatever it’s worth, the Bears are certainly a more palatable option than the Packers, so Vikings fans aren’t likely to be overly peeved about his former fandom.

More encouraging will be the revelation that the pass rusher dreams of sacking Aaron Rodgers (a.k.a. Public Enemy No. 1 in Minnesota; or, if not No. 1, then certainly in the top 5). True, Rodgers is now in New York, but that doesn’t mean the Vikings’ fanbase is enthused about him all of the sudden. Seeing Carter sack Rodgers would be a welcome sight for a lot of Minnesotans.

NCAA Football: Connecticut at Army
Nov 19, 2022; West Point, New York, USA; Army Black Knights defensive lineman Kwabena Bonsu (97) and outside linebacker Andre Carter II (34) celebrate on the sidelines in the final seconds of a win against the Connecticut Huskies at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Not too long ago, PurplePTSD‘s Josh Frey wrote about the defender, insisting that he justifies the hype. “Technique as a pass rusher can certainly be taught,” Frey explains, “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.”

Danielle Hunter, provided his hold-in doesn’t prefigure a trade, is the locked-in EDGE1. Marcus Davenport will be starting opposite him. After the initial pair, the Vikings will turn to some combination of Patrick Jones II, D.J. Wonnum, Luiji Vilain, Benton Whitley, and/or Curtis Weaver. And, of course, Andre Carter II.

In a perfect world, Carter gets off the PUP List in short order, allowing him to re-enter the competition at edge rusher. If he lives up to his potential, Carter will be on the final roster as the calendar flips into September.

Oh, and one more thing. After his NFL career, Carter will work for the United States army. Per an ESPN interview, his job will be to work as an artillery officer. He notes that he’s “looking forward” to being able to “shoot some missiles down range.”

Editor’s Note: Information from Sports Reference CFB and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

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