With the ninth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Jalen Carter, the talented defensive tackle from the University of Georgia.

At this point, it should almost be an accepted fact that any Eagles’ defensive draft pick will come from the University of Georgia. Of the 8 defensive players the Eagles have drafted in the past two years, 5 played college football for Kirby Smart at the University of Georgia. Such a trend allows the Eagles to live up to the Dawg mentality on which they so often pride themselves.

The Eagles’ selection of Jalen Carter is the second time they have drafted a Georgia DT in the first round in as many years. Jordan Davis was the first, selected with the 13th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. In his rookie season, Davis had 8 solo tackles, 10 assists, 3.5 stuffs, and 1 pass deflection.

The Eagles expect Davis’ numbers to improve this season as he takes on greater responsibilities on the defensive line due to the departure of Javon Hargrave. Hargrave, an eight-year veteran in the NFL, was a key contributor to the Eagles’ defensive line last season. Hargrave started in all 17 games for the Eagles and recorded a career-high in sacks with 11 as well as solo tackles with 37 while forcing 2 fumbles and recovering one. This past offseason, though, Hargrave signed a four-year, $84 million contract with the 49ers.

Photo: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Given this key departure from the Eagles’ defensive line, young players will have to step up, including Davis and Carter. The Eagles’ front office hopes that Carter, in his rookie season, can develop into a player similar to Davis. In his 35 career collegiate football games, Carter recorded 44 solo tackles, 39 assists, 18.5 tackles for a loss, 6 sacks, 4 pass deflections, and 2 forced fumbles. Carter even scored a receiving touchdown in his freshman season, emblematic of his versatility. Carter’s skillset made him one of the most highly regarded prospects in this year’s draft. 

Despite Carter’s raw talent, there has been some skepticism regarding his work ethic. At his Pro Day, Carter weighed 323 pounds, 9 pounds heavier than he was at the 2023 NFL Combine. Before his Pro Day, Carter did not condition nearly as much as he should have. Ultimately, Carter was left unable to complete some of his workouts.

A lot of the difficulty Carter faced resulted from his involvement in a car crash after Georgia won the 2023 College Football National Championship over TCU. The Athens-Clarke County Police Department in GA charged Carter in March with “reckless driving and racing charges in connection to the fatal crash involving teammate Devin Willock and Georgia recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy in January.” Carter later pleaded “no contest” to the charges, resulting in 12 months of probation. 

The Eagles’ front office seems to see Carter’s actions as indicative of a young man who has yet to fully mature. With the great culture in Philadelphia, Carter will be given the resources he needs to grow as a person away from the football field. As Super Bowl contenders last season, the Eagles have a champion mentality to which Carter will be expected to adhere.

Carter will be surrounded by veteran defensive linemen next season, which will keep him in line. Eagles’ lifers Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham are both respected veterans in the league, and Cox and Graham will always look out for the best interests of the younger players on the team. Rookies like Carter will be held to a very high standard. This high standard should develop Carter into the man he is capable of becoming. Such a development would pay the Eagles back dividends for trading up with the Bears to ultimately draft Carter. 

Before they traded with the Bears, the Eagles had the 10th and 30th overall pick. One of the latest NFL 2023 Mock Drafts from NFL.com prior to the 2023 NFL Draft predicted that Carter would go to the Bears with the 9th overall pick. The Eagles, nervous the Bears might take Carter, swapped their 10th overall pick with the Bears and gave them a 2024 fourth-round pick. Jalen Carter is a great talent which, according to draft guru Mel Kiper Jr., remained the number one prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft even after his involvement in the crash was made publicly available.

If they can develop Carter’s maturity, the Eagles got a steal with the ninth overall pick. Given the Eagles’ great group of guys and Carter’s desire to succeed in the NFL, it is likely the Eagles will thrive in that regard. Carter will fit in well on the Eagles’ defensive line next season, especially given the recent departure of Hargrave. And if Carter does mature, it is likely the Eagles got the best player in the 2023 NFL Draft. The future looks bright for the Philadelphia Eagles heading into next season, and we shall see what Carter adds to the Eagles’ Dawg mentality this season. 

Featured Image: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

One Comment

  1. Jo

    May 4, 2023 at 5:31 PM

    Go Eagles! Great article!

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