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Scouts take on Jalen Carter- let’s just say he could be there at 13


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In the days leading up to an NFL draft almost 40 years ago, Dick Steinberg and his peers in the NFL scouting community were coming to grips with the exhausting uncertainty of evaluating defensive linemen.

From the first round of 1985, Bruce Smith and Chris Doleman made the Hall of Fame, Ray Childress was a perennial Pro Bowler, Ron Holmes and William “The Refrigerator” Perry were solid players and Kevin Brooks and Darryl Sims were busts.

“There’s been more mistakes made in the defensive line than any other position in the last 15 years,” said Steinberg, at the time director of player development for the New England Patriots. “The biggest reason is inconsistent competitiveness.”

Nothing much has changed. Other than quarterback, one could argue that a defensive tackle with dominant traits might be the most difficult to find and the hardest to evaluate. Because their value is extreme, teams always have and probably always will loosen their grading criteria and reach on big people.

Four days remain to the draft. Staffers and scouts place eleventh-hour phone calls seeking telling nuggets about a player’s past. The general manager and head coach close the door and watch tape of someone for the 10th time. For teams with a selection in the first round, one player demands a decision. That is Georgia’s Jalen Carter, one of those inconsistent competitors with bountiful athletic gifts.

Even casual football fans know about the tragic mid-January night in Athens, Ga., when Carter raced his Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk against a Ford Expedition late at night just hours after the team’s parade for winning a second consecutive national championship. The Expedition was traveling about 100 miles per hour when it slammed into a power pole. Two people were killed.

Carter lied to police about his proximity to the crash. In mid-March, he pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing. He was sentenced to 12 months on probation and ordered to pay a fine, perform community service and attend a safe-driving course.

“That was all about half lies, half-baked truths,” said an executive in personnel for an NFL team. “The championship is over so he’s out from under their purview and he’s racing on the streets of Athens and people get killed. He had to lie like a dog at the combine. And there’s not one person there at Georgia that will endorse him. What are the red flags here?”

Enraged though they might be about that tragedy not to mention Carter’s ticket in September for driving 89 mph in a 45-mph zone, teams now must make a multi-millionaire business/football decision about a controversial player that remains eligible for the draft.

“The arrest thing and all that, you can deal with it,” said another executive. “You can help guys get through some off-the-field staff and mature.”

In interviews with 15 football executives over the past three weeks, the overriding question regarding Carter is singular: Does he love football?

If teams conclude that Carter does, they might select him. If teams don’t, they will rule him out.

“His football character’s a mess,” said one evaluator. “You can’t compromise football character. If they don’t love football and they don’t know how to work, it’s going to be hard for them to become who they should become.”

Another scout said Carter had demonstrated to him during his three-year career hat he didn’t love football and didn’t love the weight room. His conditioning became such an issue at Georgia that the coaches put him on the treadmill almost daily.

In March, Carter showed up at pro day weighing 323 pounds, nine more than at the combine. After Joe Cullen, the defensive line coach for the Kansas City Chiefs, orchestrated drill work for the assembled NFL audience, Carter ran out of gas and abruptly quit.

“He put him through the ringer,” said an executive. “They were trying to break him, and he broke. No, it’s not a black mark. It’s a question mark, not a black mark.”

He continued: “They’re young dudes. They all got issues. Some of them have more than others. When it comes down to playing the game there had never been anything criminal until recently. He does stuff that other people can’t. I don’t think he’ll fall out of the first round or anything like that. He’s too risky for the top 10 for me because, when you think of the top 10, you think of face of the franchise and second contracts.”

Another personnel chief gave Carter a 70-30 chance to succeed in the NFL.

“I don’t trust that he likes football,” he said. “Supremely talented, immature, does it on his pace. … If he loved football, I mean really loved it, he’d be a f--king beast.

“He’ll wind up being like an average NFL guy. It’ll be like (the) dumb ass from Tennessee. What was his name? Haynesworth.”

In March 2002, Albert Haynesworth (6-5 ½, 320) ran a 4.93 at pro day in Knoxville. After that, Tim Krumrie, the gung-ho defensive line coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, put Haynesworth through his paces. After a while, Haynesworth just quit just like Carter did 21 years later in Athens. Haynesworth, the sixth defensive lineman selected, went 15th.

At the time, Haynesworth was compared to Chester McGlockton (6-4, 337, 5.05), the 16th player selected in 1992, and Darrell Russell (6-4 ½, 325, 4.85), the second player picked in 1997. Today, Carter (6-3, 323), who by choice didn’t run a 40, bench press, perform jumps or attempt shuttle runs, is being compared by veteran scouts to those three mega-talented underachievers.

“He’s in that mode, same category,” one scout said. “He reminded me (most) of Darrell Russell. He made a couple Pro Bowls and had like seven (substance abuse) suspensions, then got killed in a car wreck (in 2005).”

McGlockton played 12 seasons for four teams and was voted to four Pro Bowls. Before the ’92 draft, scouts described him as a rather obnoxious individual who didn’t even try on about half the plays at Clemson and would rather not have practiced.

“Somebody may fall for it,” Steinberg, then the general manager of the New York Jets, said a few weeks before the Raiders drafted McGlockton. “Maybe he’ll change and compete harder, but he never has in his history.”

Carter’s up-and-down level of intensity and production has left a similar impression on the scouts of today.

“There is potential for bust, yes,” an evaluator said. “It’s all up to him. Those guys, Haynesworth (10 years) and McGlockton, played at least for a while. They got big contracts. Carter would love to have a Chester McGlockton and Albert Haynesworth career length and the amount of money they made.”

Would the careers of McGlockton (four Pro Bowls, 51 sacks) and Haynesworth (two Pro Bowls, 30 ½ sacks) satisfy Carter’s suitors? That depends on expectations.

My poll of 16 evaluators saw Carter emerge as a unanimous choice. He totaled the maximum 80 points in 1-2-3-4-5 balloting.

Eleven others received votes, including Bryan Bresee (38), Keeanu Benton (28), Mazi Smith (26), Calijah Kancey (24), Keion White (19), Adetomiwa Adebawore (seven), Gervon Dexter (five), Zacch Pickens (five), Siaki Ika (three), Tyler Lacy (three) and Byron Young (two).

“There were 19 defensive tackles officially at the combine and 40-plus defensive ends,” one personnel director said. “The emphasis on defensive tackles just isn’t there in college ball so there just aren’t that many.”

JALEN CARTER, Georgia (6-3, 323, no 40, 1): Third-year junior. Started 13 games in his 38-game career. “The best player (in the draft), just football-wise, is Jalen Carter,” one scout said. “He’s the best pass rusher if he plays hard. He’ll go in the Top 10 but he should be the first defensive player off the board. Because when he plays, there’s no one who can block him. He doesn’t play hard every snap. You’ve got to check out everything on him with the car crash. But if some coach can push the right buttons on this kid they’ll have a Pro Bowler.” Can a defensive line coach, given the climate in the NFL today, still have a major impact on a young player? “Now they can’t go out there and yell and scream at these guys because then those guys would just balk,” a second scout said. “There were guys (in the past) that could punch those guys’ buttons and get ‘em going. You can’t really do that anymore.” A 5-star recruit from Apopka, Fla., the hometown of Hall of Fame DT Warren Sapp, he had no sacks in 2020, three in ’21 and three in ’22. “Is that great?” said a third scout. “Six sacks in three years? He’s a great talent. I don’t think he's a great player.” Finished with 83 tackles (18 ½ for loss), two forced fumbles and no recovered fumbles. “He hasn’t played a high volume of snaps and you’re going to have to get comfortable with who he is,” said a fourth scout. “At the pro day, it looked like he wasn’t prepared to play a high volume of snaps. He missed some time (two games, sprained MCL), them came back against Tennessee and was an animal. Then toward the end of the playoff run he kind of tapered off a little bit.” Is Carter lazy on the field? “That’s debatable,” a fifth scout said. “You can’t expect him to make every play. Guys take plays off. But when he’s on you can’t block him.” Arms were 33 ½ inches, hands were 10 ¼ inches. “I don’t think his level of like or love (of football) is a concern,” said a sixth scout. “The concern with me are the life skills away from the building. If he had Reggie White, a guy like that as an older mentor, this kid has enough awareness about him that he would gravitate toward that. If the main leader was (a different type individual), he also could go down that road. You better not bring him in your locker room if you don’t have established leadership and a plan in place because this could go either way with the kid.” Raised by his mother, Toni Brown. “They haven’t found a person yet at Georgia that wasn’t relieved that the season ended and he was gone,” said a seventh scout. “Not one. What’s ironic about it is Georgia would have won the national championship without him but they would not have won it without Stetson Bennett. And he’s so far down the rail we’re not even talking about him.” Scored 10 on the Wonderlic test.

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41 minutes ago, Matt39 said:

My poll of 16 evaluators saw Carter emerge as a unanimous choice. He totaled the maximum 80 points in 1-2-3-4-5 balloting.

Eleven others received votes, including Bryan Bresee (38), Keeanu Benton (28), Mazi Smith (26), Calijah Kancey (24), Keion White (19), Adetomiwa Adebawore (seven), Gervon Dexter (five), Zacch Pickens (five), Siaki Ika (three), Tyler Lacy (three) and Byron Young (two).

Benton over Mazi Smith & Kancey.... interesting. There's definitely value in the 2nd-3rd round.

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1 hour ago, Scott Dierking said:

Eagles will not let him get past 10, if he gets there.

Eagles just traded up for Jordan Davis last year and he got little playing time.  Even though they have the take a lineman rep I'd be surprised of they take Carter who is a similar type player.  I could see an edge rusher or even Kancy moreso.

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- Personality Issues

- Poor Judgement

- Not sure how truthful he was during the combine prior to the arrest news breaking. Was he honest with teams about that happening?

- Has a huge chance to prove himself at his Pro Day. Guys shows up 9 lbs over weight and looks terrible in drills

- So full of himself that he refused to do interviews with teams outside the top 10



Yea, I want no part of this guy.

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the most important thing to do right now is build the best oline we can. a DT with character and desire to play issues is not a luxury this team can afford. i get the alure but if he is there at 13 and a team is willing to trade a lot to come get him then you trade down or just take the best oline on the board. with rodgers coming here for 2 years you have to maximize that......give him to most protection and best weapons you can. i'd rather see us take bijan than this guy

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