Georgia Bulldog defensive tackle and top 10 NFL Draft prospect Jalen Carter has had quite the road to the draft since the Bulldogs repeated as national champions in early January. Within a week of Georgia beating the TCU Horned Frogs, Carter was accused of racing another car around 2:45 a.m. on Jan. 15; the other car crashed, resulting in the deaths of teammate Devin Willock and team staff member Chandler LeCroy. In the aftermath, Carter pleaded no contest to charges of reckless driving and racing. As a result, Carter was sentenced to 12 months of probation, a $1,000 fine and 80 hours of community service, and he is to attend a state-approved defensive driving course.
With the off-the-field legal issues, many teams began contemplating where Carter would land on their draft board. But their worries did not end there. On Georgia's Pro Day, Carter reportedly weighed nine pounds heavier than he did when attended the scouting combine in Indianapolis just a couple weeks prior. And to make things worse, he did not finish his Pro Day workout, as he was cramping.
And to make things even more interesting, Carter's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has said that they are declining visits with teams outside of the top 10. Carter has reportedly already interviewed with the Chicago Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles, and with a few teams focusing on the quarterbacks in the draft, that would leave Carter fewer opportunities to go in the top 10 picks of the NFL Draft.
So what could happen to the two-time national champion?
Best-Case Scenario: Top 10 Pick
The gamble of not interviewing with teams outside of the top 10 pays off and Carter's off-the-field issues do not affect his draft selection and his bank account. Five to six teams could draft Carter in the top, with the Seattle Seahawks joining the Bears and Eagles as the favorites to land him. But also keep in mind that four of those teams — the Eagles, Seahawks, Houston Texans and Detroit Lions — each has an additional draft pick in the first round. That means these interviews are for more than just 10 picks.
Worst-Case Scenario: Draft Day Slide
Obviously, the worst-case scenario is falling out of the first round, but I do not see that happening to Carter. I think he could see himself falling into the back end of the draft, where two of the above-mentioned teams have their second first-round pick, with the Seahawks at 20 and the Eagles at 31. The biggest thing riding against Carter and his draft stock — outside of everything mentioned above — is that the draft is loaded with talent on both the interior and outside parts of the defensive line. Some teams might think they can get the same production from someone without question marks.
Where Does Jalen Carter Land?
I still see Carter being drafted in the top 10 picks of this month's draft but think he will most likely land between the eighth and 15th overall selections. This would not be the first time a top prospect fell due to off-the-field concerns. Laremy Tunsil fell to pick 13 in the 2016 draft when — just minutes before the draft started — a picture surfaced of Tunsil wearing a gas mask and smoking a substance from a bong. Some teams removed Tunsil from their draft board, and he is now the third-highest-paid left tackle in the NFL.
I see the same for Carter. There are teams that have their eyes on other positions, and then you have teams that were maybe on the fence about picking Carter over someone else and have possibly made that decision following the events of this offseason. But some teams are willing to take that risk that Carter is not the type of person we have seen in the past few months and is ready to put everything to rest and go out on the field ready to compete for whatever team drafts him.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft: A Way-Too-Early Look at the Projected Top 10 Picks
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