Jalen Carter arrived at the 2023 NFL Combine viewed as the best prospect in Indianapolis With an opportunity to be the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. While that is now in jeopardy following his arrest for alleged involvement in a fatal crash that killed two people, it might not have a huge impact on his draft stock.
The Athens-Clarke County Police Department issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for Carter’s arrest, charging him with misdemeanors for reckless driving and racing. The charges stemmed from the Jan. 15 crash that killed Georgia Bulldogs offensive lineman Devin Willock and team employee Chandler LeCroy.
According to an ACCPD investigation, Carter and LeCroy were allegedly racing their cars around 2 AM on Jan. 15. LeCroy, whose toxicology report determined she had a blood alcohol concentration of .197, lost control of the SUV and crashed. The 24-year-old died at the hospital, while the 20-year-old Willock died at the scene of the crash.
Carter turned himself into law enforcement shortly after the arrest warrant was issued. The police report alleges he fled from the scene of the crash and then later provided a false statement to law enforcement regarding his whereabouts. The 21-year-old defensive tackle posted bond shortly after turning himself in and says he expects to be exonerated.
Before news of his arrest broke at the start of the NFL Combine, many around the league believed Carter could be the first overall pick. There were even reports teams were interested in trading up to the No. 1 pick to draft him.
Yahoo Sports’ Charles McDonald spoke to multiple NFL officials at the scouting combine regarding Carter’s draft stock. While teams are going to collect more information in the coming weeks, a majority don’t expect the arrest to have much of an impact on where Jalen Carter will be picked.
“He’s one of those players that is special enough to survive something like this if this is the worst of the news.”NFL source on Jalen Carter’s draft stock (via Yahoo Sports)
Carter was previously cited in September for driving 89 mph in a 45 mph zone and ESPN’s Todd McShay reported in January that he heard some teams had maturity concerns regarding the defensive tackle. However, Carter is likely to receive a fine and community service even if he is convicted of the misdemeanors.
From the NFL’s perspective, the next two months will provide teams with an opportunity to do extensive background work on the former Bulldogs star. The process will include reaching out to police contacts in Georgia, obtaining more information about his off-field history and sitting down with Carter to hear his explanation for everything.
Ultimately, though, the NFL is a business with all 32 teams prioritizing winning. Because Carter is viewed as an elite prospect, someone capable of earning All-Pro selections and becoming a difference-maker at the next level, that means what he can do on the field carries more weight than the initial revelations to the public from the police investigation.
As McDonald wrote, Carter will almost certainly be drafted high barring unexpected developments with his case but two young people still lost their lives in that January crash. Whatever blame is assigned or civil suits might possibly come, there are still two families grieving over a tragedy that can’t be forgotten just for the sake of the NFL Draft.
Related: Jalen Carter returns to NFL Combine