There has been some news indicating that Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter has been taken off multiple teams’ draft boards, though the context of these reports is less dramatic than it first appears.
Las Vegas Raiders Are Not Out on Jalen Carter Quite Yet
Carter pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges of racing and reckless driving, for which he was sentenced to 12 months probation, a $1000 fine, and 80 hours of community service along with a state-approved driving course that he must complete.
The police investigation into that incident concluded that Carter had been racing two other cars, one of which contained recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy and offensive lineman Devin Willock, who both died when that car crashed during the race.
Teams are understandably wary of players with off-the-field incidents but particularly so when the incident resulted in someone’s death and was as well-publicized as Carter’s arrest.
The Las Vegas Raiders represent one team that has been characterized as out on Carter after a report from Raiders reporter Vic Tafur at The Athletic emerged, indicating that Carter was “not an option” for the Raiders with the seventh pick.
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The Raiders are particularly sensitive to this topic because of the 2021 arrest of first-round pick Henry Ruggs, a receiver drafted by the Raiders who is awaiting trial for multiple charges related to reckless driving under the influence in connection to the death of a 23-year-old woman and her dog. He purportedly had a blood-alcohol content of 0.16 before crashing into the woman’s car at 156 miles per hour.
This had been reported as the Raiders “crossing Carter off of their board” by multiple outlets, but that’s not what Tafur reported. Though Tafur did say Carter had “already been crossed off by the team,” it was in specific reference to their current first-round pick.
The Raiders would not consider Carter at the seventh overall pick, but that does not preclude them from taking him later on in the draft if he falls. Indeed, Tafur further reported that head coach Josh McDaniels said that the Raiders would continue doing their homework on Carter, a sentiment McDaniels has echoed multiple times.
Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review Journal reported that Carter isn’t off of their board and that Carter is one of their Top 30 visits – a finite resource that teams do not tend to spend lightly.
These reports do not contradict but do paint a more complete picture.
“Multiple” Teams May Be Concerned, but There’s Reason To Doubt That They’re Out
After the Tafur report picked up steam, an additional report came out that multiple teams had crossed Carter off their boards. One came from an interview that Dave Mahler of 93.3 KJR in Seattle did with Randy Mueller, a personnel executive with the Seattle Sea Dragons who in the past has been in the front offices of several NFL teams, including the Seahawks, Saints and Dolphins.
The interview on March 14 was well before Carter’s plea, which could change the landscape for many teams. Some of the initial reporting on Carter’s behavior has not been substantiated by the police, who did not challenge his lawyer’s statement that Carter never fled the scene of the crime and instead left when he was told he could leave.
The police never charged him for fleeing the scene and indicated that they had conducted an interview with him at the scene after he returned upon request.
In the interview, Mueller says, “I do know teams have taken him off the board,” adding that “You can’t take the one incident that he has and just say that’s a one off. You have scouts that have built dossiers on him for two years now so they know if it’s a one off or if it’s a trend. And from what I’ve heard there’s been some other issues there.”
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This seemingly substantiated comments ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay made about Jalen Carter in December on ESPN 2. He said, “With Carter, there are some character issues. Does he get along with everybody. What’s he like to deal with in the locker room, those sorts of issues.”
Those initial concerns were evidently rebuked –often unprompted – by a whole host of Georgia players, who shared stories about how well Carter got along with them or how he helped them throughout the year. But after news about Carter’s arrest broke, the defenses died down.
The locker room issues have little to do with Carter’s arrest, but McShay would go on to say on the Ryen Russilo Podcast after the arrest that he was talking about work ethic issues, saying he meant to communicate that “If [Carter] falls a little bit it’s because there are some character issues. Broad picture like work ethic, practice habits, being late for meetings, some other stuff.”
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These are not quite in the same category of concern, nor does one necessarily track with the other. There was another incident in September where Carter was cited for going 90 milers per hour in a 45 mile-per-hour zone, along with a fine for tinted windows.
That is more directly relevant but all of the pieces together don’t map on to a persistent pattern of behavior in the way some have talked about it. A bad pro day may have exacerbated things for Carter, but overall, these point to the possibility that Carter slides more than the likelihood he’s completely off of team boards.
There’s no question that Carter’s stock has been impacted by off the field information, both public and private. And there’s been some reporting that he’s off of some boards entirely. But it seems more likely that Carter is seen as too risky for a top pick more than any indication that teams finding him in the fifth round will pass up on him.