2023 NFL Draft News

2023 NFL Draft News: Georgia Defensive Star Jalen Carter Could Fall After Arrest

The Chicago Bears are on the clock to pick first in the 2023 NFL Draft on April 27 in Kansas City, although they are widely expected to trade that selection to a quarterback-needy team because the Bears don’t need a quarterback with Justin Fields in the fold.

But thanks to the spectacle that is the annual NFL Draft, wagering on football doesn’t need to stop.


NFL Draft News: Georgia Defensive Star Jalen Carter Could Fall After Arrest

Many mock drafts had the Chicago Bears moving down to No. 4 overall in a deal with the Indianapolis Colts while adding a handful of other draft picks from Indy. That way, the Colts could select the quarterback of their choice at No. 1 – likely Alabama’s Bryce Young – and the defensive-needy Bears would still get either Alabama pass-rusher Will Anderson or Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter at No. 4 because Houston at No. 2 is definitely taking a QB as well. Arizona at No. 3 probably takes one of those two defensive guys.

However, the Bears’ thinking may have changed with Wednesday’s news that Carter surrendered to police in Athens, Ga. after a warrant was issued for his arrest earlier in the day. Carter was charged with reckless driving and racing in relation to a car crash that killed Carter’s college teammate Devin Willock and football team staff member Chandler LeCroy in January. The SUV driven by LeCroy was traveling about 104 mph shortly before the crash. Reckless driving and racing are both misdemeanors in Georgia.

According to documents and recordings of 911 calls reviewed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, at least two vehicles driven by Georgia football players had been at the scene, including a Jeep driven by Carter, who left the scene before police or emergency personnel arrived. Carter returned to the scene less than two hours later and was asked by police whether he had been racing the vehicle that crashed. Carter first told police that he heard the crash from a nearby apartment complex, but then later told an officer he had been driving both behind and beside the SUV driven by LeCroy.

Carter had been slated to speak to reporters on Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis as part of a previously scheduled media availability, but he said in a statement that he would leave the combine in order to “answer the misdemeanor charges against me and to make certain that the complete and accurate truth is presented. I will be fully exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing.” He is the No. 1 prospect in the draft, according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.

This definitely could affect Carter’s draft stock. Former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman noted that if Carter did not address the subject in team interviews before the news broke, “you’re going to put a red flag on that.”

Carter did meet with several teams this week, but all of that came prior to Wednesday’s news.

“We did meet with Jalen. We met with him Monday night,” Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said. “He did a nice job with us, no issues there. I did not know about the situation that came out this morning. There would be a lot of things to look into. I just don’t want to jump into any conclusions, we’ll let it all play out and make a decision.”

Washington general manager Martin Mayhew said he did not speak to Carter in one-on-one team interviews this week. “I read the news, and I know as much as you do about that,” he said. “It’s going to be pretty heavily investigated by the media and you guys obviously.”

“There were concerns before any of this—I don’t know the details on this one, only that it’s pretty bad,” said an AFC college scouting director. “Before this, he had a reputation as someone who was never particularly fond of the process. A lot of the questions were like, well, there’s nothing criminal, but he may not really love anything about football other than game day. Now, you can’t really say there’s nothing criminal.”

Carter is a big reason Georgia allowed the fewest rushing yards in the past two seasons in college football and the Bulldogs won consecutive national titles. In 2022, he piled up 31 quarterback hurries — tied for tops on the team despite his being banged up for parts of the season.

Carter had been the betting favorite to be the first defensive player chosen, but now Anderson is. CBS Sports posted a new mock draft Wednesday that had Carter sliding all the way to No. 17 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. NFL Draft Bible has rated Clemson’s Bryan Breese the second-best defensive tackle in this draft but well behind Carter.

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