Philadelphia Eagles move up in NFL Draft to snag best defensive player in 2023 class

Rumors swirled heading into Thursday night that the Philadelphia Eagles would take Jalen Carter if he surprisingly fell to them at No. 10, but the NFC Champions weren’t willing to wait and moved up a spot to take the player many saw as the best defensive talent in the 2023 NFL Draft class.

Entering February, Georgia Bulldogs stud defensive tackle Jalen Carter was seen as the best player overall entering the 2023 NFL Draft. With the Chicago Bears owning the top overall pick at the time, some speculated he could be the No. 1 selection on night one of the event. However, that all changed in March.

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In the first days of this year’s NFL Combine, a warrant was issued for the 23-year-old old in Georgia after an investigation found that the recollection he gave to police about a fatal crash that killed a teammate and a Georgia staffer days after winning the national championship wasn’t true. Carter eventually left the Combine to turn himself in and agreed to a misdemeanor plea deal.

That, along with a horrid showing at his pro day saw the athlete many viewed as the top selection in the event fall to the back end of the top 10 in many projections. With that realization, rumblings came out of the Philadelphia Eagles organization that if the talented lineman somehow dropped to them, they would not hesitate to take action.

  • Jalen Carter stats (2022): 32 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

Jalen Carter dropped all the way to ninth, and the Philadelphia Eagles decided they could not take the risk and traded up to the Chicago Bears spot to get the most gifted defensive player in the 2023 NFL Draft class.

What makes Jalen Carter a steal for Philadelphia Eagles at 9

philadelphia eagles
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Carter was a dominant force and an anchor for the best defense in college football over the last two seasons. Playing in the best conference in the country, he was a key part of why Georgia was able to remain an elite team as he earned SEC second-team honors in 2021, then conference and national first-team honors in 2022.

What makes Carter such a great get for the Philadelphia Eagles beyond his massive upside in the NFL, is that he may fill a massive hole the team had coming into the night. Maintaining a championship team is always difficult in the age of salary caps, and the team took a major hit in 2023 NFL free agency when they lost defensive tackle Javon Hargrave to the San Francisco 49ers.

Now, the Eagles may have a player who could end up being just as good and at a far cheaper rate. A team that had one of the best defenses in the league last season may not lose much of a step in 2023 after taking Jalen Carter.

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