2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jalen Carter

  • Jalen Carter, 6-3/310

  • Defensive Tackle

  • Georgia

  • Jalen Carter Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Incredible athlete
  • Rare speed; fast interior defensive lineman
  • Can take over games
  • Intimidating presence
  • Dangerous pass rusher
  • Explosive
  • Closes on quarterbacks in a hurry
  • Excellent get-off
  • Fast feet
  • Splash plays
  • Extremely disruptive
  • Natural pad level
  • Skilled at shedding blocks
  • Good pursuit run-defender
  • Plays with good leverage
  • Good motor
  • Instinctive
  • Awareness
  • Great twitch
  • Tough run defender
  • Strength to shed blocks and flow to the ball
  • Tons of upside; could get better with experience

  • Weaknesses:
  • Did not produce up to his skill set
  • Poor character
  • Off-the-field concerns
  • Doesn’t work hard
  • Gets winded in games
  • Conditioning needs to improve
  • Has a reputation of not loving football
  • Hand usage could get better
  • Large mass guards can give him some problems

  • Summary: Georgia won its first National Championship since 1980 in 2021, led by a legendary defense that possessed some elite prospects for the NFL on the defensive front. Mammoth nose tackle Jordan Davis got a lot of media attention, and fellow tackle Devonte Wyatt received acclaim as well, but some broadcasters hinted that next year’s tackle Jalen Carter was even better those two, as Carter flashed dynamic ability while rotating with those star veterans. Carter recorded 37 tackles and three sacks in a backup role in 2021 and showed a serious skill set to make him a player to watch in 2022.

    Carter then totaled 32 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles and two passes batted in 2022. The junior missed some time due to a sprained MCL from a dirty hit versus Missouri. In the playoff win over Ohio State, Carter had a fast start, but he faded because he got winded, exposing his lack of conditioning. Carter admitted to the problem after the game and tried to improve his conditioning before the National Championship win over TCU.

    As a pass rusher, Carter showed more natural ability to get after the quarterback in 2022 than Jordan Davis or Devonte Wyatt had in 2021. Carter is quick off the ball with excellent first-step quickness. Thanks to his speed, Carter is dangerous to fire his gap and get into the backfield. His speed catches offensive linemen by surprise, and that allows him to often get them on their heels. Carter has a serious burst to close, and he will blast into the backfield.

    In spite of his height, Carter plays with excellent leverage. He stays low versus guards and avoids allowing them to get underneath him. Carter has natural strength in his upper and lower body to bull through blockers, showing interior speed to power.

    Carter is a tough defender against the run who can hold his ground and cause disruption in the backfield. He regularly pushed through blockers or fired his gap to cause havoc behind the line of scrimmage, leading to a blown up run cleaned up by teammates. With his skill set, Carter is a well-rounded defender who can handle both phases.

    Carter could stand to improve his hand usage. Sometimes, he lets his hands go still when locked up with blockers rather than chopping blockers off of him. Large mass can give Carter some issues as well, and in the NFL, he will see large mass guards regularly. Improving his technique to not get pushed or tied up by large mass blockers would help him to be more effective. Carter has a ton of upside, so these points of technique should improve as he gains more experience.

    While Carter looks destined to become a top-10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, multiple team sources say they have makeup concerns about Carter. Team sources said scouts have heard from Georgia that Carter is not a hard worker and believe that he loves football. It is not uncommon with prospects who are supremely talented to fail to be hard workers. They are so physically gifted that things have come easy, so they never had to work exceptionally hard to be elite at college level. However, that changes in the NFL, where teams want players who have a good work ethic and love to play football. Carter has developed a reputation of not being a worker or loving football, so that could rub some franchises the wrong way picking high in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

    Multiple sources also question why Carter did not produce more when he was so much more talented than the blockers he was going against.

    “Carter is gifted no doubt, but I don’t see a Ndamukong Such- or Quinnen Williams-caliber player. He may have similar size, power, and quickness to those two, but they were way more polished and productive with rushing the passer at this point. Carter is not Darrell Russell, Richard Seymour or Albert Haynesworth caliber like some of the talking heads have compared him to.”

    For the 2023 NFL Draft, Carter looks like a top-10 pick, and he could be one of the first non-quarterbacks taken. Carter is one of the most talented players in the draft class, but NFL teams did not give him an elite grade because of the work-ethic concerns and lack of production. If he slides to the back half of the top 10, the makeup concerns will be the reason.

    Player Comparison: Kawann Short. Carter compares well to a juiced-up version of Kawann Short. However, Short was more productive in college at Purdue than Carter was at Georgia. If Carter works hard, he could be a difference maker and a better version of Short in the NFL.


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