Something unique happens during the NFL Draft every season, and 2021 was no exception. With their fourth-round pick in the ’21 draft, the Jets selected North Carolina running back Michael Carter. With one of their fifth-round picks, the Jets selected Duke cornerback … Michael Carter II.
No team had ever taken two players with the same name during the common draft era. But for a moment in the fourth round, Jets coach Robert Saleh was concerned that they weren’t going to be able to land both Carters. Why was that? He thought that they had selected the wrong Carter with the 107th pick.
As Saleh explained in a recent interview, ESPN mistakenly threw up an image of Carter II on the screen instead of Carter. That prompted him and the team to double-check their draft cards. But fortunately, they had selected the UNC product first.
“When we took Michael Carter the running back, ESPN threw up Michael Carter II on the screen and we were like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute,’ and checked the notes and made sure we made the right pick,” Saleh said in a conference call, per CBS Sports. “But, lucky for us, Michael [Carter] II ended up falling to us and we were able to scoop him up. So, like I said, we’re excited to have them both.”
Taking the wrong Michael Carter certainly would have been an all-time draft day mishap. It would have ranked right up there with the Browns calling Cameron Jordan instead of Jordan Cameron to let them know he had been drafted, the Bucs selecting the wrong player in the first round because of a communication error, and the Washington Football Team taking the same player in the first round twice only to see him never play for the team. At least it wouldn’t have been quite as bad as the CFL drafting two dead players in back-to-back years.
Nonetheless, a gaffe like that involving two prospects with nearly identical names from rival North Carolina schools would be more than memorable and would be yet another thing that NFL fans would use to poke fun at the Jets.
Luckily for Saleh and Jets GM Joe Douglas, that didn’t happen. Instead, they get to go down in draft day history for drafting two Michael Carters, or as Douglas is calling them, “MC Squared.” Now, they’ll hope that Carter can provide the team with a solid lead back to pair with Zach Wilson while Carter II will look to earn a role in a wide-open Jets secondary.