Georgia Bulldogs defensive tackle Jalen Carter is viewed by many as the best player in the 2023 NFL Draft class. However, the unanimous All-American faces uncertainty heading into draft night regarding exactly where he will be picked.
Before the NFL Combine, Carter was the consensus top prospect in the 2023 draft class. While the Chicago Bears were widely expected to trade the first pick, Carter was viewed as their likely target if they stayed put. Things changed quickly for the 6-foot-3 defensive tackle.
Amid a few NFL Draft rumors suggesting some teams had off-field concerns with the Bulldogs’ star, a warrant was issued for Carter’s arrest. He faced two misdemeanor charges, counts of racing and reckless driving, tied to allegations of racing on the same night of the Jan. 15 crash that killed teammate Devin Willock and recruiting staff member Chandler LeCroy.
Carter immediately returned to Georgia and turned himself into the police. After returning to Indianapolis, he interviewed with multiple NFL teams and discussed his off-field history and the arrest, with meetings that left teams with more concerns.
After reaching a plea deal to avoid jail time, Carter showed up to Georgia’s Pro Day overweight and out of shape. It further elevated concerns, especially following reports that he was warned about reckless driving by an officer in 2022 and was cited for going nearly twice the speed limit.
While Carter is viewed as one of the biggest fallers during the pre-draft process, given he could’ve been the first pick if Chicago kept it, one top NFL insider still believes Carter will be a top pick.
“I don’t think he’s going anywhere past five, I don’t think he’s falling.”Yahoo Sports’ NFL reporter on Jalen Carter’s draft stock
NFL teams have proven in recent years that there is a willingness to take risks on players with maturity concerns or off-field issues if they are talented enough. Carter is viewed as one of the best defensive tackle prospects to enter the NFL in the last decade.
He has received some comparisons to Ndamukong Suh, with some in the league believing Carter is one of the few 2023 NFL Draft prospects who could develop into a future Hall of Famer.
The Seattle Seahawks, holding the fifth overall pick, need premium talent on the defensive line and have a long history of drafting players who had some red flags. Considering the team’s need at defensive tackle and its penchant for taking risks, the Seahawks should be viewed as the favorite to draft Carter.