Jalen Carter’s draft inventory a subject of debate amongst NFL execs

INDIANAPOLIS — Jalen Carter’s world was shaken on Wednesday when a warrant was issued for his arrest and he was compelled to depart the NFL Scouting Combine so he may give up to police in Georgia.

One day later, he returned to the mix, the place his NFL future may not have been shaken up a lot in any respect.

The 21-year-old Carter was thought-about a top-three prospect and among the finest defensive gamers within the NFL Draft earlier than his arrest, and that normal opinion does not seem to have modified — not less than not but. There is clearly concern after Carter was charged late Wednesday night time with reckless driving and racing in connection to a crash that killed a Georgia soccer teammate and workers member final month.

But a number of NFL sources informed FOX Sports they believed that whereas groups will take a wait-and-see method in case extra damning particulars are revealed later, most aren’t more likely to fully draw back from a 6-foot-3, 310-pound defensive deal with who’s a doubtlessly dominant participant. It’s doubtless, a few of these sources mentioned, he’ll nonetheless find yourself within the prime 10 to fifteen picks, if not proper again within the prime 5 the place some anticipated he would go all alongside.

The precise spot will rely upon the chance tolerance of particular person groups, and what occurs between now and the NFL Draft. So far, Carter has solely been charged with two misdemeanors for his function within the deadly accident.

The NFL has a protracted historical past of tolerance for prison exercise much more severe than that.

“First of all, that was a horrible tragedy. Let me say that,” mentioned Ravens normal supervisor Eric DeCosta. “I wouldn’t want to comment on the specifics about how that would affect somebody’s draft status, because there’s a lot more information and I’m not privy to that. I might be by the time the draft rolls around. It was a horrible thing that happened down there and I feel horrible for the families.”

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“Lives were lost,” added new Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans. “You just think about those families who lost a loved one and you put that at the forefront. That’s the most important thing.”

That is crucial factor, however it does not change the NFL’s actuality that the draft is simply eight weeks away and a few staff is about to make an enormous funding in Carter. If he had been to be drafted within the prime 5, he’d get a contract assured to be value $30-40 million. Even if he simply lands someplace within the prime 20, his deal could be $15 million-plus, assured.

That’s some huge cash to place right into a participant dealing with authorized troubles, to not point out every other character issues. So groups are clearly going to need to know the whole lot concerning the incident earlier than drafting Carter with a first-round decide. And it does not assist that his story has been altering. He initially informed police that he was a mile away from the crash that killed teammate Devon Willock and workers member Chandler LeCroy, in accordance with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

But a press launch from the Athens-Clarke County (Ga.) Police on Thursday accused LeCroy and Carter, who was driving a 2021 Jeep Trackhawk, of “operating their vehicles in a manner consistent with racing” simply exterior of Athens at 2:30 a.m. on January 15, the day of the crash.

“The evidence demonstrated that both vehicles switched between lanes, drove in the center turn lane, drove in opposite lanes of travel, overtook other motorists, and drove at high rates of speed, in an apparent attempt to outdistance each other,” police mentioned, including that LeCroy’s Expedition was going 104 miles per hour at one level.

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Ranking the QBs

Ranking the QBs

Joel Klatt revealed his top-5 quarterbacks for the 2023 NFL Draft, together with Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson.

Carter did return to the mix after posting a $4,000 bond and meant to proceed his mix actions, in accordance with an NFL supply. He wasn’t planning to work out, however he did undergo medical evaluations and measurements and was anticipated to conduct interviews with a number of groups who had been absolutely going to ask him concerning the incident. In a press release launched on Twitter, Carter vowed “to make certain that the complete and accurate truth is presented.” He added that “There is no question in my mind that when all of the facts are known that I will be fully exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing.”

That’s unlikely to occur, although, earlier than NFL groups should make their choices. Carter is scheduled to be arraigned on April 18 — simply 9 days earlier than the NFL Draft begins.

“It’s going to be pretty heavily investigated by the media and we’ll track that, obviously,” mentioned Commanders normal supervisor Martin Mayhew. “We have a company that we work with on background investigations. We have a very thorough analysis of these guys’ backgrounds, especially any criminal activity or criminal behavior.

“I do not know what occurred with him. Not saying he did something that was incorrect as a result of I do not know. But we’ll know. We’ll discover out.”

Even if NFL teams do find out exactly what happened with Carter on the night of the fatal crash, they still have to decide what to do about it. Carter’s size and talent are tantalizing. He has been consistently ranked in the same range as Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson and Texas Tech edge rusher Tyree Wilson as one of the three best defensive prospects in his class — and frequently as the best of that trio.

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Every team in the top 10 could use a player like him. But will the charges against him and the revelations about his involvement in a fatal accident lead any of them to decide all that talent comes with too great a risk?

“You know, what’s fascinating is, only a few guys have too many points,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, speaking generally about players with off-field concerns. “So it actually does not come up fairly often. But I feel when it does come up, you’ve got simply obtained to resolve the place you draw the road. Our group attracts the road on sure issues that we do not cross over. After that, we simply attempt to choose who they’re as folks.”

That line, of course, varies from organization to organization — and sometimes from player to player. So it’s an individual choice for the teams considering Carter, deciding which side of that line he lands on. And it might depend a lot on what happens over the next eight weeks, what other information comes out, and whether his legal troubles get resolved.

Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports, covering the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the previous six years covering the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and before that, 16 years covering the Giants and the NFL for the New York Daily News. Follow him Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.

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