With the 2023 NFL Draft less than two weeks away, it's time to break down one of the top prospects available in Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter. While there are some legitimate questions surrounding the star defensive lineman, there's no doubting Carter's incredible upside. Below, we continue our NFL odds series with a prediction for the team to select Carter in the upcoming draft.
Once considered a can't-miss prospect at the top of many draft boards, Carter is now regarded as a high-risk, high-reward option that could slide after a poor showing last month in front of all 32 NFL teams at his pro day.
Carter was unable to finish position drills due to cramping and reportedly weighed nine pounds heavier than he did two weeks earlier at the NFL Combine, where he was forced to leave early to return to Athens to answer two arrest warrants for his alleged role in the Jan. 15 fatal crash that killed teammate Devin Willock and Georgia recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy.
Last month, Carter pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of racing and reckless driving. He was sentenced to 12 months of probation and assessed a $1,000 fine, along with 80 hours of community service. Carter was also previously cited for driving 89 mph in a 45 mph zone last September. He's required to appear in Athens-Clarke Municipal Court on April 18th.
Despite his off the field questions and some concerns over his emotional and mental health, Carter is still widely expected to be a top ten pick. In fact, his agent Drew Rosenhaus has said he's declining to meet with all teams drafting outside the first ten picks.
A very versatile and extremely explosive prospect with generational upside, Carter is a disruptive force in the run game and brings a ridiculous motor as an interior pass rusher. His hand usage is outstanding, his feet are always active, and he rockets out of his stance with a wicked first step. Moreover, he maintains great leverage through contact and plays with exceptional toughness. Carter looks like a pro-ready, plug-and-play prospect with All-Pro potential.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the odds and make a final prediction for which team will draft Carter in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Here are the 2023 NFL Draft odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
2023 NFL Draft Odds: Team To Draft Jalen Carter
Chicago Bears: +270
Detroit Lions: +380
Philadelphia Eagles: +430
Seattle Seahawks: +650
Atlanta Falcons: +1000
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The Chicago Bears have made a few splash moves this offseason, with the most notable move being their trade with the Carolina Panthers that gave them two first round picks (including ninth overall pick this year), two second round picks, and star wide receiver D.J. Moore. In addition to that blockbuster, the Bears have made several free agent additions, with linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards headlining the group.
Ohio State's Paris Johnson Jr. and Northwestern's Peter Skoronski are certainly in the first round conversation for the Bears as they look to overhaul their offensive line and build around quarterback Justin Fields. But based on the betting odds, Chicago has emerged as the top destination for Carter.
Despite bringing more depth and versatility to their defensive line rotation with the additions of DeMarcus Walker, Andrew Billings, and Rasheem Green, the Bears need a game-wrecker like Jalen Carter. They finished with a league-low 20 sacks last year and surrendered the second-most rushing yards and the most rushing touchdowns in the NFL as well. For those reasons, Carter to the Bears makes a lot of sense.
Flushed with premium draft capital and young talent, the Detroit Lions have put together the leadership and culture to feel comfortable rolling the dice on a potentially generational prospect with character questions.
Last year's No. 2 overall pick in defensive end Aidan Hutchinson lived up to the hype, and sixth round pick James Houston looked like a real Day 3 steal. Romeo Okwara and Charles Harris were also brought back on team-friendly deals this offseason, and John Cominsky impressed in limited action, but the Lions need to continue to add talent and depth up front on defense.
Despite the trade of Jeff Okudah, the Lions solidified their secondary in free agency with the additions of Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson, giving them the flexibility to take the best player available with the sixth overall pick. Assuming he's still on the board, Carter would be a home run pick here.
On paper, Philadelphia's stacked with talent on their d-line, but All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox is 32 years old, and Pro Bowl defensive end Brandon Graham is 35. Both are both playing on one-year deals at this stage of their career. In addition, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman has earned a reputation for pouring premium resources into the trenches and anticipating roster needs a year in advance.
It's an open question how many teams will be comfortable taking a chance on Carter's red flags. But if any of the teams picking in the top ten should be willing to take the leap of faith, it's the defending NFC champions. They're well-coached, don't have any major holes on the roster, and should have plenty of personal insight into the character of Carter, as they just drafted two of his teammates last year in DT Jordan Davis and LB Nakobe Dean.
Flushed with draft capital (including picks 5, 20, 37, and 52), the Seattle Seahawks are the first potential suitor for Carter in the current draft order, and they are well-positioned to invest its first pick in a high-upside prospect in Carter. Seahawks GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll also have a well-documented history of taking a chance on premier talents with character questions.
Despite generating a highly respectable 45 sacks (tied for seventh-most in the league) last year—thanks in large part to free agent addition Uchenna Nwosu and the emergence of Darrell Taylor, the Seahawks were constantly ravaged on the ground, giving up the third-most rushing yards in the NFL.
Moreover, Seattle parted ways with each of their starting defensive linemen from last season in Shelby Harris, Al Woods, and Poona Ford this offseason, and they will need to find more talent and depth beyond free agent additions Dre'Mont Jones and Jarran Reed, who spent his first five seasons with the Seahawks. Carter could be a game-changer as a 3-technique for Seattle's d-line.
The Atlanta Falcons haven't had a very noisy offseason, but they have made some savvy moves in free agency with the additions of defensive tackle Calais Campbell, defensive tackle David Onyemata, linebacker Kaden Elliss, and safety Jessie Bates, to go along with the low-risk, high-reward trade for ex-Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah.
Atlanta could still be in the market for an upgrade over second-year signal-caller Desmond Ridder, who played in just four games as a rookie last year. The Falcons will certainly have their eye on RB Bijan Robinson and could be looking early in the draft for another weapon to pair with WR Drake London and TE Kyle Pitts as well.
But taking one of Georgia's top two defenders—Nolan Smith or Jalen Carter—makes the most sense for a team that covets top-end Bulldogs prospects and needs to continue to overhaul a defense that finished with the second-fewest sacks (21) in the league last year and finished in the bottom ten in a majority of defensive metrics.
Team To Draft Jalen Carter Prediction
Jalen Carter's potential landing spots start with Seahawks at No. 5 and end with the Eagles at No. 10. Each of these teams will be looking to overhaul their trenches with more talent and depth, but in the end, it's tough to envision Detroit passing on a golden opportunity to build a ridiculous defensive line and put less pressure on its new-look secondary. It's easy to envision Carter biting kneecaps for Detroit's defense for the long-term future, which makes him seem like a perfect fit with the Lions.
Team To Draft Jalen Carter Prediction: Detroit Lions +380