NFL scout watched Riders’ Duron Carter live in Ottawa

More than 24,000 spectators witnessed Saskatchewan’s East semifinal victory in Ottawa but one, in particular, was focused on Duron Carter.

An NFL scout was in the building to watch the uber-talented Riders receiver, who had five catches for 51 yards, live along with a handful of other players in green and white. It’s not rare but there aren’t NFL front office people at every CFL game either: there’s usually a reason when one makes the effort. That shows the type of talent general manager and head coach Chris Jones and assistant vice presidents of football operations John Murphy and Jeremy O’Day and the scouting staff have brought to Regina since coming to town.

Carter had an excellent regular season with Saskatchewan making 73 grabs for 1,043 yards and eight touchdowns, the latter two statistics were career highs. Jones has created an atmosphere where Carter can be himself and it’s been productive for both the player and team. Carter is a free agent after this season.

Along with Carter being an elite pass catcher in 2017, he’s played defence too, starting at weakside corner against Calgary. No. 89 picked off Bo Levi Mitchell and took it back for a touchdown. Even though there was a report about the Washington Redskins being intrigued about Carter as a DB, another NFL talent evaluator feels much different.

“Definitely not an NFL defensive back,” one NFL personnel man said.

As a receiver NFL coaches and scouts feel Carter has the skills to be a roster player if not even more than that, but maturity issues have been mentioned. That said, it does seem like he’s operated in a more respectable manner since arriving in Saskatchewan.

The son of Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter has had one NFL stint already. After two stellar seasons with Montreal in 2013 and 2014, Carter was signed by the Indianapolis Colts. During Indy’s training camp he impressed – a lot. Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said Cater was “plucking balls off defensive backs heads like they were peanuts.” Then-offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said: “every day he makes a play that makes you say ‘wow’.”  Just ask Argos’ defensive back Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, bet he’d agree.

Riders receiver Duron Carter (89) makes a one-handed grab for a touchdown in front of Toronto Argonauts defensive back Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (9). THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor

Pre-season games were Carter’s undoing, he dropped passes and struggled which landed him on the practice roster for the 2015 year. He was not retained by Indy – character concerns played a role – and came back north of the border.

It’s in the CFL where he has consistently produced. Over 58 games in the three-down league, the 26-year-old has 258 receptions for 3,920 yards – over 67 yards per game – and 25 touchdowns. Signing a one-year deal with Saskatchewan last January means Carter can explore various options in the off-season.

Special athleticism has always been there for Carter, with scholarships to Ohio State and Alabama serving as proof. But consistency in what he does on the field and his demeanor – again, which has been better with the Riders – are key. There are a lot of football people watching Carter, trying to decide whether the sometimes enigmatic playmaker deserves that second chance in the NFL.

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