The Detroit Lions are putting together their plan as it relates to the 2023 NFL draft, and a big part of that revolves around getting to know players better with visits.
Thus far during the process, information has been scant as it relates to which players will be paying the team a visit. A name did surface, however, that is sure to interest Lions fans.
According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the Lions will be hosting a pre-draft visit with Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter, who will visit the team’s facility.
“The Detroit Lions are hosting polarizing Georgia DT Jalen Carter on a pre-draft visit, while Brad Holmes hasn’t yet firmed up the group of players he’ll be picking from at No. 6 pick,” Birkett tweeted.
Carter has been controversial in the 2023 pre-draft process. Just ahead of the NFL combine, a report surfaced that Carter was involved in a car accident in Athens, Georgia that claimed the lives of two people.
Carter was arrested last week on charges of reckless driving and racing in connection with a crash that killed a Georgia Bulldogs teammate and a recruiting staff member. He then posted bond and was released.
After what played out, Carter quickly revealed a statement in which he explained what happened, and shared faith that he would be “fully exonerated of any wrongdoing” once the facts of the case were known.
On March 16, 2023, Carter pled no contest to the charges and was sentenced to 12 months of probation and a $1,000 fine. Additionally, 80 hours of community service was included, as was the mandate to attend state-approved defensive driving course.
At the very least, now, the Lions will be able to get the facts from Carter about what happened, and make a full judgement on his character. Once assumed to be a top-three pick, many mocks have sent Carter tumbling down the board to Detroit at pick six.
Now, the Lions will at the very least be able to get a person-to-person feel about Carter’s future.
Lions Brass Dishes on Evaluating Jalen Carter
Given his legal troubles, the Carter evaluation figures to be one of the tougher ones teams have to make this spring. There’s no doubting his talent, but what about character?
That evaluation is something the team’s brass has to weigh and has been weighing as the offseason continues. Speaking at the NFL owners meetings as shown in a Twitter clip, Dan Campbell explained that the process to finding out more about a player involves some deep dives including getting to know some of their traits as well as the people around them.
“I think honesty helps. I think ultimately you want to know, does a player give all that he has on the tape? He’s not a lazy player. Now, there are plenty of times you’ll turn the tape on and the guy’s not going snap to whistle, but it doesn’t have to do with laziness. They haven’t been coached to do it, they haven’t had a coach that’s been on them or it’s just they don’t know. They’re just unaware and you get away with some things and ordinarily you wouldn’t. So I think that’s what you’re trying to figure out. You go through the character when you talk to the position coach, the head coach, the resources at the school. You talk about Carter, we talked to a teammate of his the other day, he told us some things we didn’t know. That nobody probably would have known. So it’s interesting,” Campbell said as shown in the tweet.
In terms of Brad Holmes, he also offered an explanation about how he considers prospects that have had red flags. As he said, the process the team uses is thorough and the team takes things in a case-by-case basis.
“I would say that we are very thorough when it comes to that. There’s no stone unturned and we’re very thorough on what we do,” Holmes said. It’s always case by case. These kids are young college kids and I’ve read a lot of things from a brain standpoint where your frontal lobes are developed at that point and you know some of the things that I did in college I probably wouldn’t want anybody to know about. You got to just
take it case by case. The one thing I’d say (is important) is football character.”
With those words in mind, it’s clear the Lions are going to be evaluating Carter very hard, and not just locking in on some of the mistakes he has made in the process, but rather looking at the whole picture.
Jalen Carter’s College Stats & Highlights
Carter is a player who could play a huge role up front for the Lions, and a guy that would be an immediate difference maker for Detroit in the trenches if the team believes in him.
Far too often this season, the Lions have gotten pushed around at the point of attack with regards to the run game. Additionally, they’ve struggled to rush the passer. Carter could help in solving both of those problems himself.
At Georgia, Carter finished finish his career with 83 tackles, 18.5 tackles for-loss and six sacks to go with two forced fumbles and four passes defended. In terms of his talent, he’s an obvious space eater who could get along well with Alim McNeill.
Many think that Carter is one of the best players likely to be available in the 2023 NFL draft. If he’s available and the Lions decide to make the move, it could be an interesting fit assuming the Lions trust their process.