Way-to-early 2023 NFL mock draft has Falcons landing game-changing UGA defender

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Believe it or not, it is already draft season for some outlets. Despite the first week of preseason games just starting, the folks over at The Draft Network have released their 2023 NFL mock draft, with the Falcons drafting No. 2 overall and landing game-changing UGA defender Jalen Carter.


Atlanta’s roster is in need of impactful, blue-chip players—especially defensively. Most have longed for Grady Jarrett to have someone next to him worthy of creating a disruptive interior duo. Jalen Carter fills that role amicably. Paired with the two explosive edge selections from the 2021 draft, the defense can reach new heights!

Damian Parson has the Falcons passing on the strong crop of quarterbacks to select a potential pillar along the defensive front. CJ Stroud, Bryce Young, and others are all passed on for Carter, who, by all accounts, will be the best interior defensive line prospect in the 2023 class. Here’s a scouting report from Daniel Jeremiah:

What I liked: Carter is incredibly twitched up, and he spends the majority of his time on the other side of the line of scrimmage, against the pass and run.

As a pass rusher, he explodes off the ball and has the lower-body power to work through the edges of blockers. He has quick hands and a variety of moves, most typically winning with a club/rip, an arm-over or a counter. He is adept at getting blockers to lean one way before hip-tossing them to create a direct path to the passer.

Against the run, Carter is extremely disruptive and has phenomenal lateral range. He has burst when changing directions and his effort is excellent when it comes to chasing down plays. His lateral quickness is exceptional. He can drop his weight and easily anchor single blocks at the point of attack. He generates some “wow” moments in every game with his mix of athleticism and explosiveness.

He reminds me of: Quinnen Williams. These two have a similar frame/build and they both possess an explosive first step. I would give Williams a slight edge in the power department, but I believe Carter is more nimble and a smoother athlete. Like Williams during his time at Alabama, Carter finds a way to stand out on a college defense overflowing with NFL talent. Williams, who was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 draft, is an ascending force for the New York Jets, with 13 sacks and 73 pressures (by Pro Football Focus’ count) over the past two seasons. I believe Carter has the same upside.

I believe the Falcons’ game plan should be Will Anderson, Bryce Young, or bust this upcoming draft season. The Falcons haven’t exactly found their franchise quarterback, and passing on a potential superstar at signal caller is an unforgivable mistake. Young, Stroud or any of the other highly touted prospects will be on the Falcons’ radar, which they’ve been very outspoken about.

Desmond Ridder could be the answer as Matt Ryan‘s successor; however, that question remains unanswered. And the worst-case scenario is the Falcons don’t play the rookie at all in 2022. Without meaningful snaps, the Falcons won’t know if Ridder can be the quarterback of the future. Without proper evaluations, they’ll be forced to make the difficult decision of dipping back into the quarterback pool, which could spell the end of Ridder’s time in Atlanta before it even begins.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire
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