ATHENS — Jalen Carter was back on the field at Georgia’s pro day on Wednesday. With all 32 teams present, Carter left NFL teams asking even more questions regarding his NFL draft future.
Prior to the NFL combine, Carter was seen as a candidate to possibly be the top player, or top non-quarterback, selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. But then he was arrested for reckless driving and racing charges while the combine was taking place. The charges stem from the night of Jan. 15, the same night Chandler LeCroy and Devin Willock tragically died in a car accident. Carter was allegedly present at the scene of the crash.
Carter did not work out at the combine but did meet with teams, returning after he posted bail on the evening of March 1. On Tuesday, Carter went through position drills but did not run the 40-yard dash nor do any agility tests. What’s more, is Carter was unable to finish drills. He was reportedly dealing with cramping issues per ESPN’s Mark Schlabach.
The Georgia defensive tackle also weighed 323 pounds, nine pounds heavier than he did at the NFL combine.
Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin, Atlanta head coach Arthur Smith and Chicago head coach Matt Eberflus were all present in Athens for Wednesday’s event. Smith and Eberflus’ teams will both be picking in the top 10 of this year’s draft.
Their teams will now have to dig deeper into Carter and what his future might hold. The defensive tackle will be back in Athens on April 18 for his arraignment in regard to the arrest. That is just nine days before the start of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Multiple teammates vouched for Carter and how he has handled the NFL draft process.
“The best teammate I’ve ever been around. He’s misunderstood just be he don’t talk to people,” outside linebacker Nolan Smith said. I just know me and JC got that special connection on the field. Him being in a 2 or i and having to go to a 3, I just look at him and I’m like (nods). He just understands football.
“He just does things his own way. I’ve got a left-handed brother that’s just like that so I guess that’s why I understand that. Left-handed people do things in their own way and you’ve got to take time with them. I love JC. No offense against JD, but that’s probably the best d-tackle I’ve been around.”
Georgia coach Kirby Smart also spoke about Carter to reporters on Wednesday. The Georgia coach stressed that Carter is going to have to answer every question asked of him by NFL teams.
“There’s been a lot of questions about Jalen, which probably was inevitable anyway,” Smart said. “There’s a lot of questions generally, but with the situation, probably more questions and more direct. You just try to be honest and talk about the experiences we had with Jalen here.”
Smart went on to praise Carter’s competitive character while pointing out he is universally beloved by his Georgia teammates. Carter was a unanimous First-Team All-American this past season, despite missing two games with a knee injury.
The Bulldogs had three defensive linemen taken in the first round of last year’s draft. The first round of this year’s draft is scheduled for April 27 and will be held in Kansas City, Mo.