Concern around Georgia’s Jalen Carter grows; could he fall to Falcons?

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Somehow, the Falcons might end up with arguably the most talented prospect in the 2023 draft class available when they’re on the clock in April. Despite being one of the most physically gifted players in this cycle, concern around Georgia’s Jalen Carer continues to grow.

The NFL draft is filled with twists and turns at every moment from the end of the season until draft night. We have seen prospects tumble down draft boards before. Laremy Tunsil fell after a video surfaced minutes before the draft of him smoking weed. La’el Collins was named in a murder investigation two days before a draft; despite never being a suspect, he wasn’t cleared by police until after the draft — he went undrafted.

The Athletic’s latest mock draft, based on intel from NFL GMs and executives, had Jalen Carter falling out of the first ten selections. The concerns stem from an arrest warrant issued for the former Bulldogs defender by the Athens-Clarke County police department for reckless driving and racing the night of a fatal crash that took the lives of a Georgia staffer, Chandler LeCroy, and offensive lineman Devin Willock.

And speculation is growing at Georgia’s pro day. Jim Nagy reported Jalen Carter would only do positions drills — no other testing — and is up nine pounds.

None of this bothers me, though. For a man of Carter’s size, gaining nine pounds in a couple of weeks isn’t abnormal, especially if he was cutting weight for the NFL Combine. Somehow, all of this is being misconstrued into being something bigger than it is.

Media frenzies are often concocted out of thin air due to a snowball effect and sometimes for underlying motivations. It seems that’s exactly what’s going on.

I don’t know how the legal process will play out for Jalen Carter, but I don’t think he will fall out of the top 10. If everything checks out, the Falcons and every other team that passed on him will feel foolish. Some clubs don’t need to take that kind of risk, but several could stomach the potential PR backlash and resulting consequences.

In the NFL, if you’re talented enough, it doesn’t matter what you did/do off the field — i.e., Deshaun Watson. I don’t agree with it, but it’s the reality of the league. From the information currently available to the public, Jalen Carter’s “off-the-field issues” don’t warrant a free fall down draft boards.

Photographer: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire

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