Eagles DT Jalen Carter has the potential to be great in Philadelphia

Jalen Carter eagles
Newly drafted Philadelphia Eagles’ Jalen Carter smiles while answering a question during a news conference at the NFL football team’s training facility, Friday, April 28, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Following last Thursday’s draft, the consensus around the National Football League is that the Eagles came out as one of the big winners. They were able to plug holes on the defensive line by selecting Jalen Carter and Nolan smith in first round. The Eagles also added depth in the secondary, as well as trading for a starting running back. The story for the Eagles is the sheer amount of Georgia Bulldogs they acquired, 4 in total including draft picks and trades.

While there is not much of a precedent for this, choosing players from perhaps the most dominant college defense of all time does not sound like a terrible idea. The first Georgia player they selected was defensive tackle Jalen Carter with the ninth overall pick.

When first looking at Jalen Carter, one’s first instinct is that he is a huge guy. Not as much of a behemoth as former college and current NFL teammate, Jordan Davis, but 6’3” and 310 pounds is nothing to scoff at. For a man of his size, he is an athletic freak.

He did not have a good showing at his Pro-Day and Combine but some extenuating outside circumstances could have contributed to that. If one looks at the tape, one will see that Carter is just bigger, faster, and stronger than most of the people lined up across from him.

The sky is the limit for Jalen Carter

FILE – Kentucky quarterback Will Levis (7) is sacked by Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) and linebacker Quay Walker (7) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021 in Athens, Ga. Considered the best interior defensive lineman in the draft, Carter has the talent to be selected among the top five. If he drops, it’ll be because of character concerns. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)

Carter has the rare potential to be a force in both the run and pass defense when most defensive tackles do not have the kind of freak athleticism and burst needed to do this. At Georgia, he set up all over the line on running downs. He can either come off the edge and cut off a running back trying to bounce to the outside, or move offensive linemen aside and stop runners between the gaps.

On obvious passing downs, Carter almost exclusively lined up on the inside, but was still able to wreak havoc. He has a power element to his game that allows him to just bullrush over offensive linemen that stand between him and the quarterback. Carter excels at getting leverage over the linemen and just pushing them against their will out of the way.

However, his most effective pass-rushing tactic is a lethal swim move. Jalen Carter has an explosive first step and uses that to get to the side of the opponent, then flips his arm up and around the other player, effectively moving them aside and giving a clear lane to the quarterback.

Jalen Carter has all the physical tools needed to succeed at the NFL level. His physical attributes are top-notch, but he needs to prove he can focus on football and stay out of any distractions. That was his main negative coming into the draft and why the player deemed “the most talented defensive player available” fell to the Eagles at number 9.

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)

However, I think Jalen Carter will have the necessary support needed to do this. With established and successful veterans like Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox, as well as numerous Georgia teammates on the team, he should have enough positive influences in his daily life to stay straight. The character issues are certainly a concern, but I think that coming to a team with a culture like Philadelphia can negate that. If everything goes to plan, Eagles fans could be looking at a top defensive player in the entire sport.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum