In the latest edition of For Those About to Mock, host Joey Mulinaro is joined by draft expert Matt Miller to discuss quarterback C.J. Stroud’s (scouting report) draft stock after his pro day, the latest on defensive lineman Jalen Carter (scouting report), their favorite linemen in the draft and more.
2023 NFL Draft: Ownership Plays Key Role in Jalen Carter’s Future
Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter (scouting report) pled no contest to charges of racing and reckless driving on Thursday. Former coaches Mike Zimmer and Marvin Lewis discuss what happens now with Carter and the role NFL ownership plays in the former Georgia Bulldog’s future.
Jalen Carter Pleads No Contest To Racing, Reckless Driving
Former University of Georgia star defensive lineman Jalen Carter (scouting report) reached an agreement with Athens-Clarke County (Ga.) prosecutors Thursday, entering pleas of no contest to charges of racing and reckless driving, ESPN reported.
Carter, No. 1 on The 33rd Team’s Draft Big Board, was sentenced to 12 months probation, a $1,000 fine and 80 hours of community service. He also must complete a state-approved defensive driving course, according to his attorney, Kim T. Stephens.
Stephens claims Carter “never left the scene” and did not cause the car accident that took the lives of teammate Devin Willock and Georgia recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy on Jan. 15.
>>READ: Carter Made Critical Mistakes
“We are happy that we were able to work with the Solicitor General’s office to reach a resolution that was fair and just based on the evidence in this case,” Stephens told ESPN. “Mr. Carter continues to grieve for the loss of his friends and continues to pray for their families, as well as for the continued healing for injured friends.”
Stephens also told ESPN Carter was not under the influence of alcohol or any illegal substances the night of the crash.
Carter was considered the possible No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft before police issued a warrant for his arrest on the eve of his workout at the NFL Combine in February. He left the combine and returned to Georgia to answer the charges, before coming back to Indianapolis. His draft stock has dropped since then.
The defensive tackle showed up to his pro day on Wednesday nine pounds heavier than he was at the combine. He opted to only participate in positional drills but could not finish them due to poor conditioning.
Carter didn’t speak to reporters Wednesday after missing his media session at the combine.
WATCH: Carter Could Be Off Draft Boards
Jalen Carter Likely Off Multiple NFL Draft Boards
Georgia defensive tackle prospect Jalen Carter (scouting report) had a poor performance at his pro day, opting out of the testing portion and looking out of shape during positional drills. Rick Spielman thinks Carter has gone from a potential first-overall pick to a player potentially off multiple NFL draft boards entirely following his arrest and his results so far through the pre-draft process.
Jalen Carter Isn’t Willing To Put In Necessary Work For NFL
Clay Harbor was disappointed to see Jalen Carter (scouting report) show up to his pro day nine pounds heavier than he did at the NFL Combine and fail to finish drills. Harbor says Carter is proving he’s not willing to put in the work, and Harbor wouldn’t want him on his team.
Top Prospect Jalen Carter 9 Pounds Heavier, Struggles at Georgia’s Pro Day
Jalen Carter’s tumultuous pre-draft process continued at Georgia’s pro day on Wednesday in Athens, as the defensive tackle weighed in nine pounds heavier than he did at the NFL Scouting Combine and struggled with his conditioning, per an ESPN report.
Although Carter (scouting report) is considered one of the most talented prospects in the draft and is ranked as the No. 1 overall player on The 33rd Team’s Big Board, this is the latest issue that could cause him to drop in the draft.
In wake of Carter’s pro day performance, former Minnesota Vikings GM and The 33rd Team analyst Rick Spielman said he wouldn’t be surprised if Carter is, “off some NFL Draft boards.”
Working out in front of all 32 NFL teams, including three head coaches — Atlanta’s Arthur Smith, Chicago’s Matt Eberflus and Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin — Carter elected not to perform in the testing portion of drills, doing only positional work. He was not able to finish the position drills as he dealt with cramping and heavy breathing, which — coupled with his added weight — indicates he is out of shape. That’s another troubling sign for a player with so much on the line.
“As an NFL prospect, you have one job: That is to be in shape and be ready to go for your pro day,” said Clay Harbor, an analyst for The 33rd Team. “You show up, you’re in shape for the biggest job interview of your life.
“Jalen Carter showing up gassed, not being able to finish his workout, having gained nine pounds since the combine a month ago … shows me that he’s not the guy that’s willing to put in the work.
“I think he drops past the mid-first round, maybe even the beginning of the second. If I’m an NFL GM, NFL player personnel man, I do not want this guy on my team.”
Carter did not perform in testing drills at the combine and had to leave Indianapolis on March 1 to return to Georgia to address two misdemeanor charges for reckless driving and racing stemming from his involvement in a Jan. 15 car accident that left two people dead. He posted bond quickly and returned to the combine to interview with teams, but the timing of his arrest likely impacted his stock.
Carter elected not to speak with the media at the combine or his pro day. He is scheduled to appear in Athens-Clarke (Ga.) Municipal Court on April 18, nine days before the first night of the draft.
2023 NFL Mock Draft 4.0: Post-Combine Picks For First Three Rounds
2023 NFL Draft: How Top Prospects Fared at Scouting Combine
2023 NFL Combine Concludes, But Buzz, Rumors Are Still Going Strong
INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL Scouting Combine is one of the great weeks on the league’s calendar as executives, coaches, scouts, agents and media come together for what has become an annual league-wide convention.
With another combine in the books, here’s a look at some of the buzz from Indianapolis:
Jones-Barkley Decision Going Down to Wire
New York Giants officials and quarterback Daniel Jones’ representation at Athletes First met several times face-to-face in Indianapolis.
Progress was made on a long-term deal, but more work is needed. As the saying goes: Deadlines spur action.
The Giants have been trying to explain to Jones if he’s tagged, their ability to upgrade the roster decreases. For example, All-Pro running back Saquon Barkley would become a free agent and might leave. That’s because the entire $32 million value of the tag would hit the cap immediately. An extension allows the Giants to spread out the contract numbers, making this season’s salary cap more manageable to facilitate better roster building.
Jones’ asking price — reportedly $45 million per season — has been blown out of proportion a bit on social media, but there’s more work to do to bridge the gap. Neither side wants this to end in a tag, but the clock is ticking.
Meanwhile, the Giants and Barkley have been far apart in negotiations since talks started during the team’s bye week in early November. The Jones situation means Barkley and his agents at Roc Nation have taken a back seat, knowing there’s a potential pathway to unrestricted free agency.
Teams have been hesitant to pay big money for running backs in recent years, but Barkley’s camp believes he’s in a special category because his character is A+, and he’s highly marketable.
Jalen Carter Situation Unfolded in Real Time
Georgia defensive tackle and potential No. 1 pick Jalen Carter (scouting report) was scheduled to speak to reporters on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. EST when news broke an arrest warrant had been issued for him in Georgia. The charges — for reckless driving and racing (both misdemeanors) — were in connection to a crash that killed a teammate and a staff member on Jan. 15.
After some scrambling behind the podium curtain, a league spokesperson announced Carter wouldn’t speak and was still in medical testing.
The announcement of the charges surfaced hours after a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution claiming Carter was present the night of the accident and misled police with an inconsistent recounting of the events.
Carter returned to Georgia, was booked at 11:33 p.m. EST Wednesday, and released at 11:49 p.m. after posting a $4,000 bond. He returned to Indianapolis on Thursday to finish his interviews and measurements, and posted a statement on social media, saying he expects to be “fully exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing.”
Teams didn’t know the charges were coming.
>>READ: Carter Made Critical Mistake with Far-Reaching Effects
The incident was tragic, and there’s no reason to speculate as the legal situation unfolds.
From a draft standpoint, Carter’s only benefit is that it’s unfolding now and not days before the draft. Recent draft incidents such as the ones involving La’el Collins in 2015 and Laremy Tunsil in 2016 happened right before the draft, and many teams removed them from their draft boards.
Carter will have the chance to speak to teams, and they will have a chance to do all the necessary investigating to learn more about the situation and if it’s worth taking on. Was it just a horrible mistake made by a 21-year-old who will learn from what happened? Or is there past history that will lead teams to take him off their board? Teams have the next 50-plus days to figure it out.
Lamar Jackson-Ravens Situation Remains Mystery
Everyone in Indianapolis had an opinion on what would end up happening with Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, The 33rd Team’s No. 1 free agent in its Top 150, but it didn’t seem like anyone truly knew.
At his press conference early in the week, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said he and Jackson agreed not to negotiate publicly two years ago, and they’ve stayed true to that. The first sign of where things stand may come on Tuesday when Baltimore will likely use the exclusive or non-exclusive tag on Jackson. DeCosta said they don’t know which way they will go, indicating there’s a back-and-forth going on in Baltimore’s building.
The Ravens can put the non-exclusive tag on Jackson at $32.4 million, but that would allow Jackson to seek offers and bring an offer sheet back to the Ravens. They would have the right to match or receive two first-round picks from the team signing Jackson. An exclusive tag projects to be roughly $45 million, and it would take Jackson off the market. The downside, however, is it could weaken Baltimore’s negotiating stance because they’d be working off a larger number. If the Ravens had to tag Jackson again in 2024, it would cost $54 million.
Rams Shopping Ramsey, Possibly Others
The Los Angeles Rams remain open to trading All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who has a $25 million salary cap number. The hope is to have a deal in place before the new league year begins on March 15.
Los Angeles is also open to moving on from other veterans, including 2022 free-agent signing Allen Robinson, though that would be more difficult considering he has $15 million in guaranteed money next season. Robinson had just 33 catches and three touchdowns in 10 games.
Bears Open for Business on No. 1 Pick
There is no question that Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles will have more power and influence this offseason than any of his peers.
The Bears will have the most cap space with nearly $100 million and possess the No. 1 overall pick. While Chicago has not fully committed to Justin Fields as its starting quarterback for next season, many league executives said they would be surprised if the Bears decided to trade the former Ohio State quarterback.
The league-wide expectation is the Bears will trade the No. 1 overall pick, but the big question is how far down they will be willing to go.
Tua Tagovailoa’s Future Up in Air
May 1 is the deadline for the Miami Dolphins to exercise the fifth-year option on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s contract. The option would guarantee a nearly $23.2 million salary for the 2024 season.
“We’re probably best served to utilize the time,” Miami coach Mike McDaniel said at his combine news conference. “That’s kind of the way we’re approaching it, but that doesn’t mean that we’re spending any long period of time not discussing it. This is something that (general manager) Chris (Grier) and I have been working through.”
Tagovailoa missed time with injuries at Alabama and has missed 14 games during his first three seasons with Miami, including worrisome concussions this past season.
Some have wondered if the Dolphins will sniff around on the veteran market, and that probably shouldn’t be ruled out. Tagovailoa also recently made an agent switch and is now with Athletes First.
Cardinals Expected to Move On from Hopkins
Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has no guaranteed money left on his contract, and it seems like he and the Arizona Cardinals would a fresh start. This was the expectation going into the combine, and it was all but confirmed by the event’s close.
Hopkins has five seasons of 96 or more receptions but has missed 15 games in the past two seasons due to injuries and a six-game PED suspension in 2022. He recently hired an agent after not retaining one for the past several years.
Bengals Shut Down Higgins Trade Speculation
Duke Tobin, the Cincinnati Bengals director of player personnel, gave an epic response when asked about the possibility of trading wide receiver Tee Higgins:
“I’m not in the business of making other teams better. I’m in the business of making the Cincinnati Bengals better. If they want a receiver, go find your own. In my opinion, Tee Higgins is a good piece for the Cincinnati Bengals, so the trade stuff is a little ridiculous right now.”
Higgins is entering the fourth, and final, year of his rookie contract, and some speculated Cincinnati might consider moving him because of the looming extensions for franchise quarterback Joe Burrow (this year) and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (next year). The free-agent wide receiver market is weak this offseason, so there is potential to get a massive haul for Higgins.
However, as one person clarified, the Bengals have always played hardball. It wouldn’t be surprising if they let Higgins play out his rookie deal and then placed the franchise tag on him next year, similar to what they did with safety Jessie Bates. Higgins has the same agent as Bates, so if no extension gets done, this situation could mirror that one.
What Impact Will NFLPA Report Cards Have?
The first-ever “NFLPA report card,” a survey of roughly 1,300 players, was suddenly dropped to the public on Wednesday afternoon. Its results were interesting, creating a lot of discussion in Indianapolis.
Players were asked for opinions on their teams only and received a survey covering eight topics: Treatment of player families, food service/nutrition, weight room, strength coaches, training room, training staff, locker room and team travel. The three top-ranked teams were the Minnesota Vikings, Dolphins and Las Vegas Raiders. The bottom three were the Los Angeles Chargers, Cardinals and Washington Commanders.
Most agents I spoke to didn’t think it would make a major difference because the money will eventually talk to the player. Could it decide a tiebreaker? That’s definitely possible. It’s fair to wonder if some of these teams will make drastic changes because some of the responses in the report were wild to read. The players deserve better.
Buzz Building Around Several Free Agents
The 33rd Team will do a deep dive on free agency later this week, but here are some names who should do well on the open market after some conversations with agents and personnel executives:
- Eagles guard Isaac Seumalo
- 49ers tackle Mike McGlinchey
- Buccaneers cornerback Jamel Dean
- Broncos defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones
- Eagles defensive tackle Javon Hargrave
- Patriots receiver Jakobi Meyers
- Cardinals defensive end Zach Allen
- Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke
- Falcons tackle Kaleb McGary
- Jaguars tackle Jawaan Taylor
- Steelers defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi
- Chiefs tackle Andrew Wylie
Trade Market Could Get Wild
We’ve heard plenty of trade rumors about Hopkins, Texans receiver Brandin Cooks and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. However, there could be several more surprising names popping up in trades.
The combine facilitates face-to-face meetings between team decision-makers, and there was speculation by its conclusion we might see some “out-of-left-field” deals this offseason.
People aren’t sold on Sam Howell being the starting quarterback in Washington, or Kyle Trask taking over in Tampa Bay. Expect veteran competition added in both places, and several options are available in free agency this year.
Expect quarterbacks Mike White and Baker Mayfield to have solid markets for backup roles.
Kentucky’s Will Levis (scouting report) appears to be this draft class’s most polarizing quarterback prospect. If you talked with two people, you’d get the opposite one person would say one thing about him, and the other would say the complete opposite.
On Saturday, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (scouting report) officially measured in at 5-foot-10 1/8, 204 pounds. If he were 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, he would be the consensus top pick. There will be a team that takes on the risk and potentially trades up to get him, but that team will be taking on a total outlier. Young got hurt last year on a basic tackle, which only raises the concern about how he’ll hold up in the NFL. No one denies his talent and playmaking ability.
Most people expect left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to get franchise tagged if no long-term deal is reached with the Kansas City Chiefs. A few people mentioned keeping a close eye on that situation. Keep in mind Kansas City could have two All-Pros — center Creed Humphrey and guard Joe Thuney — up for new deals next year on the offensive line.
2023 NFL Draft: Jalen Carter Made Critical Mistake with Far-Reaching Effects
While Jalen Carter is not directly responsible for the January street-racing incident that led to the deaths of two young people in Georgia, his involvement in it has opened the door to all kinds of character questions in the NFL world about the highly talented defensive tackle.
Authorities believe Carter was involved in the racing that ultimately took the lives of University of Georgia recruiting staff member Chandler LeCroy, 24, and UGA teammate Devin Willock on Jan. 15.
Carter is facing a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine in Georgia for the misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing. He gave misleading statements, first saying he was not at the scene when the accident occurred and later acknowledging he was.
This immediately raised questions among NFL decision-makers, coaches and scouts as to whether he was drinking that night — and if so, to what extent. At the same time, it raised questions about his poor decision-making if he was endangering himself and others by racing at high speeds with LeCroy, who was reportedly intoxicated and driving 104 mph just before the fatal crash.
Carter has cast himself in a negative light, one that due to its serious nature and timing will also certainly negatively affect his draft stock.
At IFA, the player representation agency where I am a senior consultant, we always emphasize to our rookie clients to not do anything stupid or illegal in advance of the draft and before signing their first professional contracts. We tell them to stay out of bars (especially late at night), not to drink and drive, and not to get in fights or any type of legal entanglements. And we continue to make the point throughout their NFL careers and emphasize it again when they are pending free agents.
Financially, there’s way too much at stake.
Learning From Past
Carter should have learned from previous negative experiences of other draft hopefuls like Laremy Tunsil and Dak Prescott, who each saw the impact of off-field troubles on their draft stock.
Shortly before the 2016 NFL Draft, the infamous video of Tunsil wearing a gas mask and smoking a substance from a bong surfaced on his verified Twitter account. Projected as a top-3 pick, Tunsil fell to the Miami Dolphins at No. 13, costing him more than $13 million in his rookie contract.
After a stellar college career at Mississippi State, Prescott was projected as a potential second-round pick, but 46 days before that same draft as Tunsil, he was pulled over and charged with speeding and DUI. He admitted drinking at least one beer but was remorseful and cleared of the charges a few months after the draft. However, the damage was done pre-draft and he dropped to the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round, costing him about $2 million in his rookie deal compared to a second-round pick.
The history of the NFL draft is littered with cautionary tales of players dropping because of questionable decision-making that raises red flags with NFL teams.
While Prescott and Tunsil can’t get back the lost money from their rookie contracts, to their credit, they have carved out highly successful careers and are currently playing under lucrative contracts. And Prescott was just named the 2022 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year for his community service and off-field excellence.
Time will tell how much Carter’s lack of judgment will cost him, and whether he can ever recover like others before him.
Questions Left to Answer
Carter, who earlier in the week left the NFL Combine to turn himself in after two warrants were issued for his arrest, returned to Indianapolis to meet with teams and take his physical. The first chance he’ll have to work out in front of scouts and preserve his status as a top prospect will be at Georgia’s Pro Day on March 15. The interview sessions at his pro day and during pre-draft visits to team facilities will be stressful for Carter, who will be grilled incessantly about his character and the racing incident.
His agents now have him engaging in damage control. “There is no question in my mind that when all the facts are known that I will be fully exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing,” Carter said in a statement earlier this week.
Well, there’s definitely a question among NFL people about Carter’s role in the tragic incident. He might wind up being cleared or get a slap on the wrist, but he made a big mistake by putting himself in this position to be questioned by authorities and teams about his activities that night and overall decision-making. He’s got a lot of work to do as he tries to convince NFL teams that they can count on him being great both on the field and in the community.
Carter is generally considered the most talented player in the upcoming draft, but I can’t recall a player with character questions going No. 1 overall. A potential drop from No. 1 to No. 4 would cost him an estimated $4 million on his rookie contract, and if teams really get skittish on him as they did with Tunsil and Prescott, and he drops out of the top 10, we’re talking an estimated $18 million difference from No. 1 to No. 11.
Even before this incident, I thought the Chicago Bears would trade the top pick to a quarterback-needy team. But if the Bears didn’t find offers to their liking or if they thought Carter was too good to pass up, their thinking may well have changed as a result of Carter’s actions on that January night. He gave Chicago GM Ryan Poles another reason to trade the pick or select the draft’s other top defensive player — edge rusher Will Anderson — with the first pick or even at No. 4 after a potential trade with the Indianapolis Colts.
Tragically, all of this was avoidable.
Jeff Diamond is a former Minnesota Vikings general manager and Titans team president. He was selected NFL Executive of the Year after the Vikings’ 15-1 season in 1998. Follow him on Twitter at @jeffdiamondnfl.