It’s been a difficult few weeks for Georgia standout Jalen Carter, whose draft stock has plummeted since his arrest on reckless driving charges stemming from a street-racing incident that resulted in the death of teammate Devin Wilock. Responding to an arrest warrant, Carter abruptly left the NFL Combine, returning to Athens, where he was released on $4,000 bond.
Weighing nine pounds heavier than he did in Indianapolis weeks earlier (323), Carter disappointed in front of scouts Wednesday at his Georgia Pro Day, appearing noticeably out of shape while cutting his workout short due to cramps. Every team attended Carter’s showcase in some capacity with three head coaches—Mike Tomlin (Steelers), Arthur Smith (Falcons) and Matt Eberflus (Bears)—present.
Whether it was a lack of preparation or stress from his ongoing legal trouble (his misdemeanor charges carry a maximum prison sentence of one year, though probation is more likely), Carter couldn’t have picked a worse time to lay an egg, with whispers the 21-year-old could be in danger of falling out of the top ten.
A unanimous All-American, Carter contributed a full stat line in 2022, totaling 32 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles for the National Champs, achieving those gaudy numbers while battling a knee injury throughout the season. He also earned strong marks from ProFootballFocus, grading as PFF’s No. 3 defensive tackle out of 475 positional qualifiers.
Even before the drag-racing episode, ESPN draft expert Todd McShay had cryptically alluded to Carter’s off-field issues, a characterization coach Kirby Smart took exception to, citing his generosity in using his own scholarship money to buy meals for his teammate, walk-on Weston Wallace. Draft night in Vegas is still six weeks away, affording Carter plenty of time to redeem himself in the eyes of scouts, though recent setbacks have proven costly, leaving the talented albeit volatile defensive tackle little margin for error.
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