What to Expect with Jalen Carter and the NFL Draft

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A day after the University of Georgia won the College Football National Championship game against TCU, the number one pick seemed like a lock. For those unfamiliar with Georgia’s dominance this season, it was spearheaded by defensive tackle Jalen Carter.

Carter was a one-man wrecking crew on their defensive line. He was largely an afterthought during their Championship victory the previous year, buried behind a deep and talented roster of defensive talents. This year, he got his chance to be the GUY on the defense, and he succeeded.

jalen carter

Pending a trade out of the #1 overall pick for the Chicago Bears, Carter has widely been mocked as the first overall selection. However, earlier today, Carter was charged with reckless driving and racing in connection with a tragic crash that killed a teammate and a recruiting staff member.

The allegation is that Carter was racing his Jeep Trackhawk against Chandler Leroy (a 24-year-old recruiting staffer), which led to a car crash on January 15th, mere days after the Championship game. Complicating matters is that Carter was present at the crash scene and is alleged to have provided incorrect information regarding the wreck to the police.

The star defensive tackle is currently in Indianapolis for the NFL scouting combine. The result of this investigation likely means that his draft stock is entirely up in the air. Given that the crash occurred in Georgia, he faces misdemeanor charges for reckless driving and racing.

The official police statement said that “evidence demonstrated that both vehicles switched between lanes. [They also] drove in opposite lanes of travel, overtook other motorists, and drove at high rates of speed.”

The toxicology report revealed that Leroy had a blood alcohol concentration of .197 – more than twice the legal limit for Georgia – at the time of the crash.

 

So what now?

For Carter, this constitutes as a legitimate disaster and a genuine public relations nightmare. He was seen as a virtual lock to go top-5 in the upcoming draft. Carter was also one of the favorites to be selected first overall. Pending the result of his investigation, there’s a chance that he doesn’t go in the first round.

Jalen Carter car crash NFL Draft

We’ve seen similar situations of top prospects falling due to misdeeds in the past.

In the 2016 NFL Draft, former Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil was widely expected to go #1 overall. Ten minutes before the draft was set to start, Tunsil’s Twitter was hacked, and a video of him smoking a bong and wearing a gas mask was released. Tunsil went from a consensus top-5 pick to going 13th overall.

Similarly, LSU offensive tackle La’el Collins was expected to be a first-round pick, perhaps even going in the top-10, in the 2015 NFL Draft. News broke prior to the draft regarding his potential involvement in the shooting death of a pregnant woman with whom he’d previously had a relationship. He eventually went undrafted before signing a deal with the Dallas Cowboys.

Ultimately…

It’s not clear what Jalen Carter’s role was in the crash, even if he lied about the circumstances around it. Assuming he’s not officially arrested or spends time in jail, I doubt that a talented player of his caliber goes undrafted. While that sounds crazy, given that his participation resulted in the death of two people, the NFL has shown (time and time again) that talent can outweigh distraction.nfl

An example of this was with former Oklahoma State and West Alabama wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Hill was a first-round talent who dropped to the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, largely due to his domestic violence arrest.

I don’t think that Carter will fall to the fifth round, but I’d expect this news to tank his stock. Where he was once a sure-fire top-five pick, I could see him following out of the top-10 entirely.

However, if he does get arrested or is found to have directly contributed to the crash, things will get significantly worse for him. He could (and in that situation, likely should) end up in jail, never playing a down in the NFL. That would constitute quite the precipitous fall for a player who, only two months ago, was widely expected to be the top overall draft pick.

Catie Di Stefano has worked in the gambling industry since 2011 for major brands like Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Gaming Innovation Group and Betsson Group. She started in customer support at age 19 and has since worked her way through VIP, CRM and Marketing. Today, Catie is passionate about educating players on consumer rights and the best approaches for legal play in the United States as the Director of Community Marketing at OnlineGamblers.com. Catie was born in Indonesia but grew up in Sweden. Currently, she resides in Spain with her two daughters.

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