The University of Georgia has fielded an absolutely stacked defense over the last two years, fielding first round caliber players at almost every position. But even with all the talent and freakish athletes on the field, defensive lineman Jalen Carter managed to stand out as the best player on that defense.
Carter has been an absolute menace for every offense the Bulldogs have faced and, often as not, a defensive wrecking ball.
Carter has long been considered the best player in the 2023 NFL Draft and a lock for a Top 5 pick. However, his draft stock was thrown into chaos after a warrant was issued for his arrest in connection to a fatal car crash.
It still seems impossible that Carter could slide all the way down to the New York Giants, but could he fall far enough that the Giants could trade up for him?
Prospect: Jalen Carter (88)
Games Watched: vs. Oregon (2022), vs. Florida (2022), vs. Tennessee (2022), vs. LSU (2022 SEC Championship)
Red Flags: Involved in a fatal car crash, charged misdemeanor with reckless driving and racing
Games Played: 35
Tackles for a loss: 18.5
Forced fumbles: 2
Passes defensed: 4
Games Played: 13
Tackles for a loss: 7.0
Forced fumbles: 2
Passes defensed: 3
Best: Size, length, athleticism, first step, hand usage, competitive toughness, football IQ
Worst: Short-area quickness
Projection: A starting defensive lineman with scheme diversity and All Pro potential.
(Carter is Georgia DL number 88)
Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter has an excellent combination of size, athleticism, technical refinement, and versatility to play the defensive line at the NFL level.
Carter played all over the Georgia defensive line, lining up everywhere from defensive end to nose tackle, and even played from a two-point stance on occasion. He is both a very powerful lineman and a very good athlete for the position.
Power and explosiveness form the basis of Carter’s game. He typically keys the snap well and fires into the backfield with excellent leverage and pad level. That leverage maximizes his already-impressive play strength, and allows him to overpower most interior offensive linemen. Carter is powerful enough to hold up to double or triple teams when asked to two-gap and create rush lanes for his teammates. Carter is also capable of penetrating into the backfield with his speed and explosiveness. He’s a polished technician who understands how to set up blockers and is quick to use a counter move if his initial rush fails. Carter makes frequent use of a heavy club move usually followed up by a swim or rip move, depending on his opponent’s leverage. He also has an effective forklift move to attack blockers’ hands.
Carter is, unsurprisingly, a very good run defender. Not only can he hold up at the point of attack and create a pile in the middle of the line of scrimmage, but he can disrupt plays in the backfield. Carter is able to neutralize offensive line blocks and discard them at will to make plays off of blockers. He has a good motor and range in pursuit, and is quick to retrace and defend screens, option plays, or QB scrambles.
There are very, very few actual weaknesses in Carter’s game. The most glaring is a slight stiffness when trying to change directions in close quarters, but given his size that’s to be expected. It would simply be less-evident if he wasn’t as good at beating offensive linemen and getting in space in the backfield as he is.
NFL teams will need to do their due diligence and check into Carter’s background and off-field character. He was involved in the accident that took the lives of a teammate and a member of the Georgia football program.
Overall Grade: 9.3
Jalen Carter projects as a starting defensive linemen with scheme diversity.
Carter flashes dominance on the field and has the ability to make a game-changing play at any time. He is one of the most disruptive defenders in the country and has the ability to win in any way he pleases.
Carter is a massively powerful defensive lineman who can drive lone blockers deep into the backfield or command and control double teams. He’s also a great athlete with an explosive first step and the ability to win with his speed. Carter is a solid technician at the defensive tackle position and knows what to do with his hands. Not only does he have very heavy hands, but knows how to fit them to maximize his leverage and play strength, as well as how to neutralize linemen’s blocks. He also understands how to match speed counters with his power, and frequently uses a hard club followed by a rip or swim move to beat blockers while they’re still trying to anchor against his bull rush.
Carter’s legal troubles relating to the fatal accident in which he was involved have thrown his draft stock into flux. Carter plead no-contest to misdemeanor reckless driving and racing charges. However, teams will want to fully investigate Carter and his off-field character before they invest a high pick in him.
Off-field concerns aside, Carter is a very clean prospect who can make any defense in the league better and has an All-Pro ceiling.