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You shouldn't count out Patriots WR DeAndre Carter

The small receiver could have a big impact in 2016.

I'm guilty of violating the headline. I've counted out Carter. Whenever I rank the Patriots wide receivers, I put him at the very, very end, behind the likes of Aaron Dobson, Devin Lucien, and Chris Harper.

Maybe I shouldn't.

ESPN's Mike Reiss has labeled Carter as a dark horse to watch out for this offseason as someone "who will make a surprise run at roster spots," and called him "a spark plug slot receiver."

Who is Carter?

Bernd broke down his history here, but I thought he was worth a deep dive of his own. After all, Reiss puts Carter in the same dark horse category as running back D.J. Foster, for whom I have an unabashed crush.

When we first look at Carter, it's his unparalleled athleticism that jumps off the charts, and I'm not just hyping him up. Even when you adjust for his smaller height and weight (5'8 1/2, 185 lbs), he comes up as above average in everything.

He has a respectable 4.44 second 40 yard dash, but it's his 1.45 second 10 yard split that turns heads. The 5'8, 175 lbs Dri Archer posted a 4.26 second 40 yard dash, but he took 1.49 seconds for his 10 yard split. Julian Edelman's 10 yard split was 1.52 seconds. Carter is fast.

In fact, "a more athletic version of Edelman" might actually be the best way to describe Carter, as Carter is faster, quicker, stronger, and more explosive almost across the board.

WR Carter Edelman
Ht. 5'8 1/2 5'10 1/2
Wt. 185 195
40 yd 4.44 4.52
10 yd 1.45 1.52
Bench 17 14
Vert 38.5 36.5
Broad 126 123
Shuttle 3.80 3.92
3 Cone 6.64 6.62

Jon Moore of Rotoviz compiled a list of the top height-deficient receiver prospects in college to compare how Carter stacked up from an athletic standpoint, and discovered that Carter bested the likes of Tavon Austin, Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks, and Percy Harvin.

Moore also discovered that Carter was one of three players- along with Emmanuel Sanders and Donnie Avery- to be above average in every combine test, from a weight-adjusted measure, and that Carter is an extremely young prospect with a lot of room for growth and upside.

And beyond just the measurables, he can play.

Carter collected 99 receptions for 1,321 yards and 17 touchdowns in his final season in college, after grabbing 64 receptions for 934 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior. He's still only 23 years old.

So don't count out Carter just yet. He could surprise everyone with a solid camp and could find his way onto the active roster, especially if a player like Danny Amendola starts his season on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Maybe he'll be a great spark plug for the Patriots offense that's already full of energy.