INDIANAPOLIS — A bombshell fell Wednesday morning just 30 minutes before top draft candidate Jalen Carter was scheduled to speak to reporters from the NFL scout group.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Carter, a former All-American defensive tackle for the University of Georgia, by the Athens-Clarke County Police Department on two misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing in a January crash that killed the offensive lineman of Georgia Devin Willock and team worker Chandler LeCroy. Carter later posted a statement on his Twitter account saying that he was going back to Athens to face the charges against him.
The primary focus here must remain on the loss of young lives. But there’s also the simple reality that this situation leaves Carter’s draw stock in a bit of limbo.
Carter has been talked about as the potential No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, with many analysts calling him the best player in the 2023 class outright. That potential is now an important part of how this plays out.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, Carter’s situation is firmly in the “wait and see” portion of the draft process, as teams learn more about Carter’s involvement in the draft, according to a source who works for a team in the top five in the draft, speaking on condition of anonymity. Crash.
Another source told Yahoo Sports that the blunt truth of the matter is that Carter won’t fall at all if the two offenses are the magnitude of what’s happening legally. “He’s one of those players who is special enough to survive something like that if this is the worst news,” the source told Yahoo Sports.
When asked about Carter’s arrest warrant, Scott Fitterer, general manager of the Carolina Panthers, said he didn’t want to jump to conclusions. That sentiment will be echoed many times since Carter is such a highly touted candidate for this year’s class.
At this point, it’s unclear if teams knew exactly the warrant was coming this morning, but it seems to have caught the NFL group at least a little off guard. After the announcement of the warrant for Carter’s arrest, stage interviews with the other defensive linemen present in Indianapolis came to a halt and Carter never appeared at his stage session with reporters.
We are still early in the process of figuring out exactly what role Carter played in the January crash. But this is the leaner part of the NFL business that viewers should be well aware of by now. If a player is talented enough at what he does, past sins can be forgotten. On the sliding scale of acts that cause NFL prospects to fall from draft boards, two misbehaviors for a prospect billing himself as a future All-Pro at his position can be pretty easily ignored.
Assuming the police’s statements about the events are true, this appears to be a tragic incident that was completely avoidable. That also doesn’t necessarily mean that Carter’s draft supply will tank.
Have some mercy for the young people who lost their lives, but don’t be surprised if Carter still hears his name early in the 2023 draft. The NFL is still the NFL.