Georgia Bulldogs defensive tackle Jalen Carter ended his collegiate career as a two-time national champion and reigning unanimous All-American with many believing he could be the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. As the pre-draft process winds down, Carter might no longer be a top-10 pick.
Carter, 6-foot-3, went into the offseason viewed as the most talented player in the draft class. He was the best player on a standout Georgia defense, with many evaluators identifying him as a potential All-Pro talent at the next level.
Even after the Chicago Bears traded down from the first pick, analysts and teams projected Carter to still be a top-five pick. However, that all began to change at the start of the 2023 NFL Combine and the Bulldogs’ star has seen his draft stock slide ever since.
Hours after he arrived in Indianapolis for the combine, an arrest warrant was issued against Carter. He faced two misdemeanor charges, counts of racing and one count of reckless driving, allegedly occurring in the same area of the fatal Jan. 15 crash that killed teammate Devin Willock and recruiting staff member Chandler LeCroy.
Carter went back to Georgia and turned himself in to local law enforcement. While Carter eventually reached a plea deal to avoid jail time, the decision to fly back to Indianapolis and meet with teams might’ve backfired.
Yahoo Sports’ NFL insider Charles Robinson said on the You Pod to Win the Game podcast that two NFL teams who interviewed Carter weren’t pleased after the interview was over.
“I had two teams that spoke to me at the combine and they did not relay a positive experience…They felt like when they talked to him and the combine, they felt that’s why there’s this slide talk out there, that he’s not necessarily going to be a top-five pick…Specifically, though, both teams said the same thing. They got into the nitty-gritty of what happened at Georgia and they felt like he was not just being completely straightforward with them. They felt like there was more to it…they did not like this idea that they’re going to have to return to him later and be like ‘Hey, you said X and here’s what we found and it’s Y.”Charles Robinson on Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter (via )
In the early days after Carter’s arrest, NFL Draft rumors suggested Carter’s draft stock might not take a hit. If he was transparent with teams about his off-field issues and reports of immaturity at Georgia, he would likely still be a top-five pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Instead, Carter reportedly left teams with more questions than answers. He followed that up with a disastrous showing at Georgia’s Pro Day, showing up overweight and he struggled to make it through drills without requiring the trainer’s assistance.
While many teams still believe Carter is the best player in the 2023 NFL Draft, he has hurt his stock during the pre-draft process. He will likely still be a top-10 pick on April 27, but some decisions made at Georgia and a few responses given to questions from teams could cost him several million dollars.