According to a release from the Athens-Clarke County Police Department and first reported on by The Athletic’s Seth Emerson, police secured two arrest warrants for Carter, accusing him of reckless driving and racing, as part of an ongoing investigation into a fatal crash on January 15, 2023, in Athens, Georgia. Emerson confirmed both of the charges are misdemeanors, per a police spokesperson.
The release states that the 21-year-old Carter was present at the scene of January’s crash that claimed the lives of Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock and team recruiter Chandler LeCroy. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Carter had previously told police he was more than a mile away from the one-vehicle crash when it occurred and later admitted he was close enough to see the vehicle’s taillights.
According to the police press release:
Carter was scheduled to speak to reporters at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday, March 1, but ESPN insider Courtney Cronin tweeted that Michael Signora — the NFL’s senior vice president of football and international communications — told the media waiting for Carter that “none of the 6 players expected to speak in the final interview window, which included Carter, would be speaking today.
“[The] NFL’s official stance is that Carter and five others were still in medical,” Cronin tweeted.
How Will Jalen Carter’s Legal Troubles Impact NFL Draft Stock?
Too much is still unknown about Carter’s pending arrest to say for certain how much his draft stock will be impacted, but it is not a good start for someone who has been considered one of the top two defensive prospects in the class and was trying to convince teams of his high character at the Combine.
Carter has been one of the favorites to land with the Bears in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft, potentially as the No. 1 overall selection. He is a 3-tech defensive tackle with a proven college track record and all the tools to thrive as the “engine” of head coach Matt Eberflus’ defensive system. Short of Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr., there might not be a better defender in the class in terms of on-field production and NFL ceiling.
For a second-year general manager like Ryan Poles, though, who has prided himself on bringing a new and better culture to the Bears, there is always a chance that Carter’s legal troubles could dissuade him from targeting him with their top pick, even if things clear up for the former Georgia standout in the coming weeks.
Will Anderson Remains Premium Defensive Target for Bears
For the Bears, the worst-case situation with Carter still wouldn’t eliminate their chances of getting a top-level defensive prospect with their first selection in the 2023 draft. He might not even be the top player on their board with Anderson available.
Anderson — who racked up 34.5 sacks and 58.5 tackles for a loss in three seasons at Alabama — is more than deserving of being the Bears’ top pick, even if they choose not to trade back and stay at No. 1 overall. Plain and simple, Chicago needs better talent in their defensive trenches after recording a league-low 20 sacks as a team last season, and Anderson checks all the boxes as a candidate to be their new Khalil Mack.
If Bears do trade back, though, and Anderson comes off the board before their turn, they could look into someone like Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson, who told reporters at the Combine on Wednesday that he has already had two pre-draft meetings with the Bears. He is an aggressive mauler of a pass rusher and is enormous — 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds with a wild 86-inch wingspan — in all the right ways for Eberflus’ defense.