Eagles Draft Report: Jalen Carter slides down, Elite Corners everywhere

Eagles jalen carter
Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) waves to the crowd before the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game between Georgia and TCU, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter, projected as one of the top players in next month’s NFL draft, has been charged with reckless driving and racing in conjunction with the crash that killed offensive lineman Devin Willock and a recruiting staff member.(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The Philadelphia Eagles own six total picks in the upcoming 2023 NFL draft that is set to kick off on April 27th in Kansas City. Four of those selections will be within the first two days. They will have ample opportunity to land an impact player in the first round, specifically a young cornerback if they choose to stay put with the 10th overall pick.

Or, maybe Eagles’ General Manager Howie Roseman reaches for the stars. He has never been shy about trading assets to acquire talent in the trenches and arguably the best pass rusher on the board is about to take a tumble. The news of an arrest warrant issued for Georgia standout Jalen Carter sent shockwaves around the NFL on Wednesday.

He is wanted on a charge of reckless driving and racing during a January traffic crash that killed a teammate. Carter quickly put out a statement declaring his innocence and promising he would be fully exonerated. That will play itself out in the courts.

But Carter’s legal troubles, right or wrong, were causing football experts everywhere to update their mock drafts. The 6-foot-3, 310-pounder was falling down boards far and wide, with CBS Sports dropping him all the way down to No. 17 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. If Roseman wanted to play the waiting game on draft night, he might be rewarded by having the most disruptive player in college football fall in his lap.

This is a guy who was “in the conversation for the top pick,” according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. And no one needs to be reminded of Roseman’s propensity for stock-piling versatile chess pieces in the trenches. Carter was a certifiable game-wrecker at Georgia where he played alongside Jordan Davis on the defensive line. (Yes, Nakobe Dean was there, too).

Getting the band back together would be nostalgically lethal. Maybe the Eagles employ Georgia’s old goal-line package:

“Love him. He’s like a little brother to me,” Davis told reporters in 2021. “As all freshman goes, as I did myself, we have little walls where we hit the humps but just trying to figure out ways to push through and help him so he can help us in the defense.”

Carter might feel like a luxury pick at No. 10, but the Eagles are in the process of rebuilding their defensive line. Remember, they stand to lose a bevy of monsters in free agency: Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Linval Joseph, Ndamukong Suh, and Robert Quinn. No one of Carter’s ilk is waiting behind them.

One more note: The Eagles interviewed Glenn Schumann — Carter’s co-defensive coordinator at Georgia — for their vacancy before hiring Sean Desai. Was it a fact-finding mission about his star player? Or a legitimate inquiry for a job with the Eagles? Just something else to ponder.

“He’s extremely well-rounded,” Schumann said, via The Associated Press. “If you want to move him, he can move. If you want him to play two-gap and play technique, he can do that. He’s a true four-down player. His best is really, really good.”

Scouting the Cornerbacks: Eagles Position of Need

The smart money remains on the Eagles taking a top-rated cornerback in the first round. They are in a prime position to take a top playmaker at the position. Let’s break the three best college defensive backs down:

Christian Gonzalez, Oregon: The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder keeps rising up draft boards due to his “coordinated footwork and roadrunner speed.” He had 4 interceptions and 7 pass breakups in 12 games last season. His real strength lies in his recovery speed as he easily takes three steps to glide and catch up after getting beat on routes.

Devon Witherspoon, Illinois: He was already compared to former Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel by Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network. If that sounds like lofty praise, it is but look at his tape. Witherspoon (6-foot, 180 pounds) is physical at the catch point and loves to lay the wood despite being a bit undersized. Some teams might see a nickel corner, but don’t be fooled. His ball skills on the outside should make him a plug-and-play starter.

Joey Porter, Jr., Penn State: Pedigree is everything and this kid is the son of a menacing All-Pro outside linebacker. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder was named Penn State’s Most Valuable Defensive Player in 2022 after racking up 27 tackles and 11 pass breakups in 10 starts. His critics might say he failed to log an interception. It doesn’t matter. Porter’s physical traits are intoxicating — he’s a long strider and aggressive tackler, with the ability to get his head on a swivel.

AP Photo/Ashley Landis