Will Falcons come to regret passing Jalen Carter in favor of Bijan Robinson?

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The Falcons came out of the first round of the NFL Draft with a sure-fire, Day 1 impact player in Bijan Robinson, but will the club regret passing on Jalen Carter? Let’s discuss.

Carter was once considered a possibility for the Bears’ 1st overall pick before trading down with the Panthers. A string of events resulted in a slide down the draft board, and in some instances, Carter was taken off boards altogether.

He was arrested for charges that stem from the night a car accident took the lives of a Georgia player and staffer. Carter then showed up to the Bulldogs’ Pro Day nearly 10 pounds overweight. By all accounts, it was a terrible workout for one of the top talents in the 2023 draft class.

James Palmer said on 92.9 The Game recently that the red flags go beyond the original instances. Instead, they relate to his dedication to football. “He came out and dominated on Saturdays. But I don’t think he eats, sleeps and breathes football Sunday through that next Saturday.”

Todd McShay was the initial media pundit who sounded the alarm about the character concerns, recently stating Carter could slide to the back end of the top 10. And McShay once again provided disparaging remarks on Barstool’s Pardon My Takel last week.

“As good as Jalen Carter was and as important as he was in these last 2 years winning national championships, I don’t think there are a lot of people in Athens that are crying that Jalen Carter’s leaving town. I think he’s been a lot to handle.”

It seems those sentiments go far beyond what most people thought too because apparently even his own coaches in Athens had negative things to say.

Per Mike Florio, “When it comes to defensive tackle Jalen Carter, the word making the rounds before the draft was that the Georgia coaches did not have nice things to say.”

“Ian Rapoport of NFL Media hinted at that last night after Carter became the ninth overall pick in the draft. We’ve heard it more bluntly and strongly. Members of the Georgia coaching staff are not Jalen Carter fans, and they weren’t bashful about saying so.”

In short, the Falcons won’t regret passing on Carter.

First and foremost, Atlanta may have landed the least bust-able draft prospect in Bijan Robinson; his impact will be immediate. The transition from college to the pros as a running back is the easiest of any position.

It’s not to say Jalen Carter won’t go on to have a successful career because I still think that might happen, but the likelihood Robinson flames out is lower than Carter’s, especially after these recent reports.

The former Georiga Bulldog couldn’t have landed in a better spot than Philadelphia; in fact, it’s a much better situation for him than Atlanta.

The Eagles have an established culture with a bevy of well respected veterans in his position group to guide him. Moreover, several of his former teammates — Nolan Smith, Jordan Davis, and Nakobe Dean — will be a positive influence. He won’t have to come in and be the man; Carter can show up on Sundays and ball out. Those things wouldn’t be true in Atlanta.

The Falcons need a culture setter, someone who can lead. Though Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot have built a solid foundation, it’s not even close to as developed as what Howie Roseman has built. Carter would be under immense pressure in Atlanta, which could very well hinder him from reaching his full potential.

While the Eagles have the luxury of drafting a player with some question marks, the Falcons do not. Philadelphia is a Super Bowl contender; Atlanta is trying to build toward that. Jalen Carter is arguably the most talented non-quarterback prospect in this class, but Smith and Fontenot couldn’t overlook whatever they found in their pre-draft process.

Even if Carter turns into an All-Pro, the Falcons won’t regret passing on him; there’s no guarantee he would’ve reached that same level in Atlanta, and Bijan Robinson is no consolation prize.

Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

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