The biggest story of the NFL Draft will be Jalen Carter. It won’t be which quarterback the Panthers take first overall; it will be how far the Georgia Bulldogs prospect tumbles down draft boards.
Once considered a possibility to be the first player selected, Jalen Carter has been the subject of this cycle’s media hysteria, leading some to question if he might fall out of the first round entirely.
I don’t believe the Falcons even get a chance to draft the blue-chip prospect, and several other national pundits believe the same. Mel Kiper has him landing with the Lions at the 6th pick in his latest mock draft, and Dane Brugler has the Seahawks taking him with the 5th selection.
That hasn’t stopped the speculation, though. Josh Kendall of The Athletic feels Carter falling to the Falcons is likely, and equally likely the club passes on him.
Kendall says despite the legal troubles, the most significant concerns pertain to his work ethic. I can understand passing on a talented prospect because of questions regarding the desire to be great. Albert Haynesworth is the name that comes to everyone’s mind in these situations. However, nobody should be passing on Jalen Carter for his off-the-field issues.
The Falcons team website doesn’t feel that way, though. Scott Bair, the Falcons’ digital managing editor, most recently mocked Jalen Carter nearly falling out of the first round entirely, finally ending the free fall with the Eagles at pick #30.
In the NFL, if you’re talented enough, it doesn’t matter what you did/do off the field. Look no further than the Deshaun Watson controversy. I disagree with it, but it’s the reality of the league. From the information currently available to the public, Jalen Carter’s “character concerns” don’t warrant a free fall down draft boards.
If Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot passed on Carter because of those issues, I’d argue the culture wasn’t strong enough to begin with. There are countless examples of the Patriots, Seahawks, Ravens, and other established cultures taking players with red flags and turning them into reliable NFL players. The Falcons and every other team would be fools to pass on a talent like Jalen Carter.
Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire
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