During every NFL draft season, various factors can cause a player’s value to rise or fall. The weight of those factors gets measured by various scouts, talent evaluators and analysts, with the consensus of a player’s evaluation culminating at the Draft in late April. What should we make about the Jalen Carter situation?
One player whose stock has taken a hit is defensive tackle Jalen Carter, a two-time National Champion with Georgia, who is considered a top prospect amongst the 2023 class.
Carter recently pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing. He was sentenced to 12 months of probation, a $1,000 fine and 80 hours of community service and will participate in a state defensive driving course.
The two individuals Jalen Carter was racing on Jan. 15, Georgia football player Devin Willock and recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy, both were killed when their SUV left the road and crashed into two utility poles and multiple trees. Carter did not cause the car wreck.
Along with issues off the field, Carter also recently participated in his pro day at Georgia. He was nine pounds heavier than he was at the NFL Combine two weeks prior and was unable to finish position drills because of cramping.
So where does this leave his draft value?
Prior to turning himself in on March 2, after an arrest warrant related to the car wreck was issued, Jalen Carter was viewed as a potential top 3 draft pick. Now, he still finds himself floating in and around the top 10.
He could very well be picked by Seattle at No. 5, Chicago at No. 9 or even Houston at No. 12. But what if he falls beyond the New York Jets and to the New England Patriots at No. 14?
The defensive lineman spot is not a major need for the team. But with players like Carl Davis Jr., Daniel Ekuale, Davon Godchaux and Lawrence Guy Sr., who are all in their late-20’s or early-30’s, a spark of youth to go along with Christian Barmore could provide an immediate impact and security at the position for many years down the road.
Jalen Carter’s skill set is beyond the usual prospects his size and he has a great ability to overpower and win the initial contact off the line. He is an All-Pro level talent if he is able to reach his ceiling.
In reality, the past couple of months for Carter could have very well put him out of favor in the eyes of the Patriots player personnel department. Health is also a concern given the nagging knee and ankle injuries he dealt with last season at Georgia.
The Patriots also have more pressing positional needs which have to be addressed. The secondary group, wide receiver and edge rusher are viewed as priorities. Georgia players like Nolan Smith and Robert Beal Jr., more of a linebacker/edge rusher, would be better fits than Jalen Carter.
So, Carter to the Patriots can not be ruled out if he falls to No. 14. Yes, it is doubtful he falls that far but New England could have a best available mentality given where they are on the board. One can dream but reality will likely say otherwise.