Who is Jalen Carter? College Football is back and the NFL could still be waiting for the best of Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs NFL News

Georgia’s Jalen Carter is projected to be a top pick at next year’s NFL Draft

The NFL may somehow be yet to welcome the alpha of Georgia’s National Championship-winning crack defense as Jalen Carter enters his junior year parading the credentials of a top five Draft pick next April.

Alabama’s edge-rushing marvel Will Anderson Jr is widely-deemed a consensus No 1 overall candidate and could prove one of the greatest, if not the greatest, prospects of Nick Saban’s talent-rich Crimson Tide reign, while teammate Bryce Young joins Ohio State’s CJ Stroud at the heart of early quarterback infatuation.

The stock of a Quinnen Williams-likened Carter currently warrants similar clamor, perhaps marginally second only to that of a Von Miller-likened Anderson.

He is no ground-breaking ‘men that big shouldn’t move that quick’ exception in an era reproducing apex athletes non-discriminatory of position, but his size-defiant shiftiness at 6-foot-3, 310 pounds is staggering, unfair and potentially of an exclusive caliber.

Georgia celebrated an NFL Draft record earlier this year when five Bulldogs defenders were selected in the first round in Las Vegas. Defensive end Travon Walker went No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, followed by defensive tackle Jordan Davis to the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 13, linebacker Quay Walker to the Green Bay Packers at No. 22, defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt to the Packers at No. 28 and safety Lewis Cine to the Minnesota Vikings at No 32. That’s not forgetting linebackers Nakobe Dean, long considered a first-round prospect, and Channing Tindall landing with the Eagles and Miami Dolphins in the third round, respectively.

Kirby Smart bid farewell to the core of his all-stunting, selfless but suffocating defense, and might well still have the most gifted operator of the lot at his disposal in Carter. That’s the story.

“He was overshadowed maturity-wise by the other two [Davis and Wyatt] – he wasn’t overshadowed talent-wise by any means,” said Smart this summer. “Because he is as talented or more talented athletically than those two. A very different guy than those two, but he’s matured.

“His practice habits have actually improved this year. He’s practicing with more consistency, and he has to continue to do that. But he is very mature in that he can admit to you and be honest with you when he doesn’t give great effort He’s like, ‘You’re right Coach, I didn’t do my best on that play.’ But that happens much less often now.”

The defensive tackle closed out 2021 sufficiently full in a Georgia defense that carved stat-padding opportunities for all, tallying 37 tackles (17 solo) as well as 8.5 tackles for loss (third most on the team), three sacks, 33 quarterback pressures ( second on the team) and two blocked kicks including against Alabama to deny a field goal in the National Championship Game.

As noted by ESPN’s Bill Connelly, all-purpose bullet linebacker Dean logged tackles on 11.4 percent of snaps while Carter did so on 11.7 percent of snaps at around 80lbs heavier as a front-line roadblock. In layman’s terms, there should be a rule against as much.

  • vs. Clemson (September 5)
  • @ Vanderbilt (September 25)
  • vs Kentucky (October 16)
  • vs. Alabama (December 4)

Between every-down ferocity and a seamless transition across multiple assignments, he teased the makings of becoming the most straight-forward evaluation NFL teams will face on the road to the 2023 Draft.

Smart’s system was ingrained with alignment flexibility that added to the stunts, the faux and feinted pressure, and the late linebacker A gap mugs designed to create pre and post-snap misdirection at the line of scrimmage.

Carter’s role within that saw him balance interior work as a 3/2/2i-tech (outside/over/inside the guard) or a 0/1-tech (over/outside the center) with snaps as a stand-up 5- tech edge rusher off the offensive tackle at times, such is the athleticism with which he graces the trenches.

The explosive first-step burst, lateral quickness-turned-get skinny agility and often-unmatched power enables him to dictate blocking angles and slalom through arms when lined up as a head-on 2 or 0-tech on the inside. As much also contributes to his tendency to crab from inside-to-out at the snap, be it part of a stunt designed to generate guard/tackle traffic and open a lane for Walker or Dean to punch, or merely to exploit his bend and closing speed one-on-one off the edge.

Jalen Carter sacks Kentucky's Will Levis

Jalen Carter sacks Kentucky’s Will Levis

It was almost evidenced to perfection on one play in December’s loss to Alabama, Carter creating immediate leverage with his hand placement at the snap and using his flexibility to bend around both the center and guard from a 1-tech starting point to open a gaping hole for Tindall, only for a quick-thinking Young to get the ball out in a flash.

In Georgia’s season opener against Clemson it had been worth double checking the footage was not sped up when Carter, this time lined up over the guard, bounced off his man, skirted inside and fled to pummel quarterback DJ Uiagalelei before he barely had time to go through his readings. It typified the space-closing, play-wrecking acceleration, while speaking to the swift transfer of weight upon contact.

Vanderbilt running back Rocko Griffin is another who can vouch for that after finding himself on the receiving end of a wince-worthy Carter clothesline.

He has found lots of success with a lean-and-swim move of sorts in which he trusts his planted and reactive power enough to force his entire weight on lineman at a slight side angle via his shoulder while pumping his legs and stretching his arms around to sling-shot himself into the backfield.

His sturdy base ties in with nimble body movement in similarly allowing him to crouch low and spring through bodies with controlled footwork, although he will be aware of room for development in that regard given the threat of losing leverage should the pad level be off.

Without being overly engaging or violent with his hands, which likely becomes more of a factor this season, he already finds himself forcing lineman to overcommit through their footwork or extension with a head fake, a ghost move and a Euro Step technique that underline his burst -and-weave in all its glory.

Carter reaches for a ball in the second half of Georgia's spring game

Carter reaches for a ball in the second half of Georgia’s spring game

Carter played just 129 snaps against the run compared to 267 against the pass last season. You would expect him to adopt a more even balance as his responsibilities heighten in 2022, but within a limited sample came evidence of lateral fluidity flourishing as a match for outside zone concepts and his mauler-meets-mover arsenal chopping through contact, including regular double teams, to wrap ball-carriers while being smothered or make chase at the sideline.

There were also examples of a developing play identification, with reactive run pursuits becoming instinctive forecasts on occasion.

Pad level could be more consistent, he could amplify supreme brawn through further hand use, and there are moments when he loses balance during that prominent skip to the outside – down more to his own frantic urgency than being out-manoeuvred – but there is a whole lot of disruptive clobbering by which to be besotted.

The first-step alone wins him reps at times; the hand stab and base power is of the highest tier; the east-to-west briskness and familiarity is befitting of an NFL brimming with mobile quarterbacks, wide zone schemes and range-reliant defenses; the conviction of his spear finish is the cherry-topping flash point. Double teams are necessary, and yet fruitless.

He carries himself as the biggest, fastest and strongest man on any field, and can attest to unsung roles in many of Georgia’s 49 sacks on the year with his body-shovelling duties.

Now comes the test of playing without the Walkers, without Davis, without Wyatt, without Dean, without Tindall as the new known leader of Smart’s unit. Regardless, he looks top-five bound.


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