Jalen Carter’s last few weeks went from bad to worse on Wednesday, when Georgia football held its Pro Day. Carter, the two-time national-champion defensive tackle with the Bulldogs, was without a shred of doubt considered one of the best players available in the 2023 NFL Draft, with many believing if the Chicago Bears didn’t trade back from the No. 1 overall selection, he would be heading to the Windy City.
Six weeks from the opening night of the draft, with dozens of teams on hand to see the behemoth prospect up close, Carter was unable to finish his workout and position drills due to heavy breathing and cramping up, per ESPN’s Mark Schlabach. Carter also reportedly didn’t take part in the 40-yard dash and weighed in at 323 pounds, up nine from what showed on the scale at the NFL Combine. It’s the latest major event that seemingly tanks Carter’s draft stock and after a bad showing at his Pro Day, an impossible thought a month ago of Carter falling out of the top 10 picks in the NFL Draft is now highly plausible.
During the NFL Combine earlier this month, it was revealed Carter had been charged with reckless driving and racing, which resulted in the deaths of Bulldog teammate Devin Willock and staff member Chandler LeCroy in January. Carter responded to the charges with a statement on social media saying he believed he’d be fully cleared. (Carter pleaded no contest Thursday to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing, his attorney told ESPN.)
Carter was never scheduled to participate in workouts in Indianapolis, but had interviews with several teams. Due to not performing at the NFL Combine, Carter’s Pro Day had more significance to show how he could display the raw skills necessary to be a successful professional defensive lineman. It’s obviously a chance Carter squandered.
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Pro Day results don’t always line up with NFL success
Putting a ton of stock into Pro Days could be a pitfall that doesn’t exactly line up with NFL success. It’s always better to put your best effort into the tentpole days in the league’s selection process, but JaMarcus Russell had one of the most lauded Pro Days of all time and he’s known as one of the greatest busts in league history. Lamar Jackson’s Pro Day at Louisville tanked his draft stock after a year after winning the Heisman Trophy. Jackson nearly fell out of the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft but the No. 32 overall pick has worked out for the Ravens thus far. Whether Jackson will be in Baltimore long-term is another story.
According to the latest mock draft from Pro Football Focus, Carter falls to No. 9, oddly to Chicago. The Bears could get the man they wanted first overall eight picks later before trading the No. 1 selection to Carolina last week. Now that’s what I call value! Carter should draw comparisons to former teammate Jordan Davis, who was insanely good in college, but he was seen as much more of an NFL project. He was selected No. 13 overall last year by the Eagles, and that’s very much in the range of where Carter should go. If the former Bulldog didn’t have a terrible Pro Day, he’d again be a lock to be drafted in the top 10. Now, it’s much murkier.
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