Jalen Carter was predicted to be the No. 1 overall pick prior to the release of some, well, let’s just say curiously timed legal issues. The Georgia stud fell hard down the draft board, fueled by character concerns and a disappointing pro day, and the rest is history. The Philadelphia Eagles took the plunge and traded up for Carter despite all the red flags.
The move looked like another stroke of genius when Howie Roseman made it. Opponents seethed. Fans celebrated. All Carter had to do was prove it on the field which he has done in a major way at training camp. And in the first preseason game. The buzz is growing for the 6-foot-3, 314-pound defensive tackle with each dominant rep, including lofty comparisons to Aaron Donald and calls for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Here are five reasons why Carter should win the award:
Jalen Carter has looked unstoppable at Training Camp
Carter has been a destructive force during team drills at Eagles camp, busting into the backfield on a few explosive plays while running with the first-team defense. Then, the menacing rookie put it all on display in the preseason opener versus Baltimore when he used a one-arm club move to power past Ben Cleveland as he nearly sacked Josh Johnson. One rep. Enough said. Carter carried that strong performance over into joint practices against the Browns when he pancaked five-time Pro Bowler Joel Bitonio. He has arrived.
Has Has Won Over Veterans
The older guys on the team can’t stop talking about Jalen Carter and his untapped potential. Fletcher Cox raved about his strength the other day, adding that he is a special talent who should have been the top overall pick. Brandon Graham praised his work ethic early in camp, then the two combined for a tag team sack in 11-on-11 drills. And Jason Kelce revealed the Eagles’ offensive line has to gameplan to stop Carter in practice.
Oddsmakers Don’t Lie
Las Vegas isn’t always right about everything, but the oddsmakers in the desert are usually pretty clued into how things are going to shake out. So it has been interesting to see how quickly Carter has risen up their charts for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Caesars Sportsbook recently installed him at +500 (tied with Will Anderson Jr.) to win the award; DraftKings Sportsbook has him at +700 while FanDuel has him at +750. Carter’s stock keeps rising and rising.
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Micah Parsons Knows It
Who can forget the wild reaction from Cowboys star Micah Parsons on draft night after the Carter pick was announced. He was providing live commentary for Bleacher Report and couldn’t hold it in: “I’m just so sick to my stomach right now.” Meanwhile, social media was none too happy about it and accused the Eagles of “cheating” at the time.
Jalen Carter Knows It
If you don’t care what anybody else thinks about the No. 9 overall pick, then let him tell you why he’s not messing around when the pads go on for real. He’s going to get meaningful snaps in Week 1, with the first-team defense in relief of Fletcher Cox and next to his former Georgia teammate Jordan Davis, and he’s ready to make the most of them. Jalen Carter recently told reporters: “I’m gonna try to get as many sacks as I can, tackles, field goal blocks, and all.”
AP Photo/Ashley Landis