The Falcons could go any number of directions with their first-round pick. There’s not an area of the roster that doesn’t need an upgrade on both sides of the ball. However, both Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot have reiterated that the pass rush will be a point of emphasis this offseason, and Jalen Carter would go a long way to fixing that problem.
This continues my series of potential first-round draft targets for the Falcons. If you missed any of the previous editions of this series, follow the links below.
- Anthony Richardson
- Bijan Robinson
- Brian Branch
- C.J. Stroud
- Bryce Young
- Will Levis
- Will Anderson
- Paris Johnson Jr.
- Devon Witherspoon
I’m not going to say too much about Jalen Carter’s pending legal issues. The full details are not yet known, but if what’s been reported is true, the young man made a dumb mistake that could cost him in a big way come draft time. How far could he fall? I’m not sure anyone can answer that today. As of now, I still see him as a player that will likely go in the top 10, but a lot could change between now and then.
Off the field issues aside, Jalen Carter very well might be the best player in the draft. He’s been highly touted since high school, landing at Georgia as a five-star recruit. He saw action in eight games as a freshman, recording three tackles for loss. As a full-time starter over the next two years, Carter racked up 15.5 tackles for loss to go along with six sacks. Those might not be the flashy numbers that scream “elite prospect” but the tape would say otherwise.
Carter is a disruptor in the middle of the defensive line. He stands 6-3, 310 pounds and has the strength to move offensive linemen at will. His quickness and athleticism are also elite for the position. Carter is a fantastic team defender, whose impact doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet. Next to Grady Jarrett, the two would combine to be one of the most deadly interior defender duos in the league.
If there’s one knock on Carter as a prospect, it’s his lack of pass rush production. He only had six sacks over three seasons; with that being said, the tools are there for him to improve in that area. Is he going to be the next Aaron Donald when it comes to getting after the quarterback? Absolutely not, but he will constantly find ways to disrupt the game, against both the run and the pass. I consider Carter a can’t miss prospect. At the very least, he will be a high quality starter in the NFL.
Photographer: Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire