2023 NFL Draft candidates to be the #1 overall pick: Georgia DT Jalen Carter

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The second player I will present in this series is Georgia DT Jalen Carter. The Apopka, FL native was the third DT behind 2022 NFL Draft first-rounders Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt in the Georgia Bulldogs’ historically great defense…and yet may have been the best defensive linemen on their team, even including 2022 first overall pick Travon Walker. The last time a defensive tackle/interior defensive linemen was selected with the #1 overall pick was back in 1994 when the Cincinnati Bengals selected Dan Wilkinson out of the Ohio State University, and Ndamukong Suh has since been the highest DT drafted when the Detroit Lions selected him #2 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. Drafting interior defensive lineman that high is really rare, and here is why Carter is someone you want to keep an eye on to potentially be in contention to be selected as the #1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Profile:

Height: 6’3’’

Weight: 310 lbs

2021 Season Stats: 37 tackles (17 solo), 8.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 pass breakup, 33 quarterback hurries, 2 blocked field goals

Games Watched:

Vs Clemson

Vs Arkansas

Vs Kentucky

Vs Alabama x2

Jalen Carter will be greatest defensive linemen in Georgia football history
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  • Good size at 6’3″, 310 lbs, but really looks like he has a well put together frame, really chiseled, nothing sloppy and looks like he has low body fat.
  • Incredible athlete with rare combination of strength, quickness, agility and explosiveness to dominate the line of scrimmage.
  • Plays with tremendous pad level, consistently maintains a low center of gravity to defeat blockers.
  • Versatile player who plays all over the defensive line, whether it’s 3-technique, 5-technique, 1-technique, and even at nose tackle.
  • Advanced pass-rush repertoire for such a young player, arsenal includes rip moves, swim moves, spin moves, bull-rush and does a good job arm extending vs blockers
  • Elite combination of strength, low pad level, great hands usage and explosiveness makes him tough to block individually and…
  • He is too strong and too quick to remain double-teamed, often being too slippery for blockers as he splits them with uncanny timing in his move and makes himself skinny when shooting gaps. He also has a really strong lower body to anchor down and rarely if ever gets moved off of his spot by double teams.
  • Can disengage with ease and displace even mauling type of blockers.
  • He is really explosive and quick off the snap on plays where he is asked to shoot the gaps, which leads to a lot of disruptive plays in opponents’ backfields.
  • Twitchy and flexible athlete that blocked two field goals last year as a part-time starter.
  • Jolts blockers like a heavyweight boxer punching his opponent, with some plays where he completely knocks blockers out of his way and even to the ground.
  • Incredible motor, really hustles to the ball after shooting gaps, and in pursuit of the ball carrier, doesn’t take plays off.
  • Powerful hitter as a tackler.
  • Great awareness to know when to raise his hands to disrupt the QB’s passing lanes when he cannot defeat blockers on his pass rush.

His Best Quality: his youth and relative inexperience while already being so good in so many areas needed to be an elite defensive tackle.

Quick Chat: Jalen Carter - University of Georgia Athletics
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Areas Needing Improvement:

  • Needs to develop a better backup pass-rush plan, tends to stagnate in pass-rush when facing better and stronger pass protectors that negate his first move (i.e. vs former Kentucky C and Jaguars third-round pick Luke Fortner)
  • Proving that he is able to handle a full-time role while being the main player opposite offenses will game plan for in a defense that lost five first-round draft picks and seven starters overall in the first three rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft.
  • Can struggle to maintain balance at times during his pass-rush and when asked to make plays in space. Tendency to lunge in space to try to make the tackle shows he doesn’t fully trust his speed.
  • Prove he can have elite sack and overall pass rush production. Only has three career sacks.
  • Lacks the elite acceleration that Davis and Wyatt have on pursuits towards the outside where they had the closing burst to track down ball carriers running to the outside really fast. However, Carter does seem to have the physical body to improve in that area once he runs with more balance and control when running in open space.

AND THAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE BECAUSE…

Carter is truly an impact player that made a lot of splash plays for the National Champion Georgia Bulldogs that was filled with impact players on defense, and he did it as a part-time starter rotating with future pros. He will no question be the best player for Georgia this season and will challenge Will Anderson Jr. as the best defensive player in the nation due to the fact that he will be a featured player this year. He has all the tools to be an All-Pro DT in the NFL when he decides to come out with his elite ability to defend the run, use his incredible pass-rush moves (that will include counter moves with better coaching), and  disengage double-teams with so much ease.

Pro Comparison:

Cameron Heyward/Ndamukong Suh due to his power at the point of attack, natural brute strength to disengage blockers, low pad level, pursuit intensity to the ball (even though he can improve finish plays in space to be truly elite), powerful tackler that will most likely increase his forced fumbles numbers pretty soon.

Games to Watch Jalen Carter Play in 2022:

Sept. 3 vs Oregon

Oct. 29 vs Florida

Nov. 19 @ Kentucky

Draft Projection:

With a great season as a featured player for the Georgia Bulldogs defense in 2022, Carter will establish himself as a top-three player in this draft, and be a player in serious consideration to be the #1 overall pick if he can turn his outstanding athletic abilities and physical tools into great production. Not only playing the run and on special teams like he has shown, but especially rushing the passer from the inside with more sack production. This is a player that I believe will be a Pro Bowler within the first three years of his NFL career, and he could be in contention to garner All-Pro honors in the years to come.

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