NFL Hot Press: How Teams Currently View the Jalen Carter Situation

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Combine Logo How Teams Currently View the Jalen Carter Situation

Updated March 3, 2023
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

The NFL world was rocked Wednesday when the arrest warrants were issued for Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter. Entering the combine, Carter was a consensus top-five pick who was in the running to be the first non-quarterback drafted. However, the arrest for street racing that was part of a car accident that killed a teammate, a Georgia staffer, and injured two other people has put Carter’s draft stock in limbo as teams sought clarity on the situation. I spoke with some team sources to gauge where they see the situation with Carter right now.

Team sources saw this arrest as potentially causing them to drop Carter from their draft boards all the way to it being a near non-factor. It all comes down to his role and what he did  that night.  

Police reports say that Carter left the scene and then returned a few hours later. Sources say that if Carter saw or knew about the accident and left the scene while his teammate had just died, a staffer was dying, and two people were injured, that would lead to him dropping him from their board. If Carter drove away because he lost track of them during their race and did not know there was an accident, then they feel he probably would not be significantly hurt by a reckless driving and speeding incident.  

A source from a team that is picking high in the first round and is at a team that is very strict on character said Carter is almost off their board regardless of the result of the incident. Carter already had make-up concerns, so they had worries about his character and work ethic. That source said he doesn’t think their team will want to deal with Carter’s lack of work ethic and poor decision-making. 

Another factor that hurts Carter is the pace of the legal process. Teams would like to have clarity about the legal ramifications before the draft. With only eight weeks until the draft, the legal proceedings could still be playing out for Carter come draft day.  

Lastly, teams are questioning more if the make-up issues and work ethic are seen on the field in a lack of production. Carter was bigger, stronger, faster, and more athletic than his opponents, yet only produced three sacks in each of the past two seasons. Carter never had the kind of production of other top defensive tackle prospects like Quinnen Williams, Aaron Donald, or Ndamukong Suh, all of whom had double digit-sack seasons in college. So, teams are wondering if Carter’s make-up problems translates to him being more of a disruptor than a producer as a player. 

Thus, Carter’s draft stock is in limbo right now. The big question is if he knew of the accident and left his friends there to suffer and die, or if he didn’t know what happened. If Carter has a truthful and accurate answer that he didn’t know, he still could be a high first-round pick next month.