The front of the LSU defense has been in flux the last few years. Dave Aranda was a three-man background; then Ed Orgeron brought in Bo Pelini and a more traditional four-man front, and now, well the four man front is still in play but O seems less locked in on having four hands in the dirt on every defensive play. Still, the need to have flexible pieces that can be adaptable depending on the front. Atlanta product Zavier Carter could be one of those critical players
Coming out of Hapeville Charter, the same high school as Arden Key, Carter had some clear connections to LSU, going so far as to name Key as a mentor. A four-star prospect, 216th overall according to 247 and the 19th best prospect in the state of Georgia, Carter had offers from Alabama, Georgia, Miami and more. There wasn’t a ton of drama around his commitment, as Carter announced in the summer of 2020 his intent to join the Tigers and enrolled for the Spring
Scouting Report by Barton Simmons of 247
“Long but skinny athlete that plays out of position in high school and will need to show the capacity for weight gain. Plays defensive end but is a standup pass rusher or more likely an off-ball linebacker at the next level. Uses hands effectively to maximize length and keep blockers off his body. Good reactive quickness. Slippery as a pass rusher. Good motor in pursuit. Ability to bend the edge. Don’t see him operate in space in high school. Regularly allows yards after contact due to size issues. If you project weight gain and a smooth transition to a new position, there is real Power Five impact potential but there’s a low floor because of the unknown. If it hits, Carter has late round NFL Draft upside.”
One of the first thing that jumps out is how lean he at just 193 pounds. That’s small for a linebacker and especially small for someone whose best skills could be situated near the line of scrimmage. However, pass rush skills are always at a premium which makes sense as to why he was such a well regarded prospect.
In a different class there might be more of a need to get Carter on the field, but as this is a pretty loaded front seven group Carter can take time to develop. The big question is figuring out what position Carter plays in the long term. As noted in the scouting report his high school position was defensive end which likely won’t be the case in Baton Rouge. But that isn’t official. If he does make the move to linebacker, he has to essentially learn a new position. Obviously, Carter can be shifted around for different positions as a college player, though it can’t be helpful to his development if he is being moved around.
High End: Is like Marcel Brooks, as an effective situational pass rusher as a freshman, and morphs into a All-SEC linebacker as an upperclassman
Low End: Is like Marcel Brooks, and can’t find a home at any position.
Realistic: Is like Marcel Brooks and...jk. Plays sparingly on third down as a freshman, and is a starter by his senior season.