How Jalen Carter became the steal of the 2023 NFL Draft – Philly Sports

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**How Jalen Carter became the steal of the 2023 NFL Draft – Philly Sports**

Philadelphia Eagles first round draft pick Jalen Carter, from the University of Georgia, takes questions from the media during NFL rookie football minicamp, Friday, May 5, 2023, in Philadelphia. Victoria S. Bowles, who was seriously injured in the January car crash that killed Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock and an athletics staffer, has sued the school’s athletics association and former Bulldogs defensive tackle Jalen Carter for damages.

**Bears pass on Jalen Carter**

After the Bears traded their number nine overall pick to the Eagles in the 2023 NFL draft, which essentially meant they were passing on Jalen Carter, their GM, Ryan Poles surprisingly did explain.

*“I will say that our culture is important. I’ll say that we know where our roster is right now and what it can handle, & what it can’t handle. I think that’s part of being intelligent in this space, is knowing your locker room and where it’s at. I’m happy we made the decision that we made. Specifically, on Jalen, I think he went to a fantastic place that has, their cement dry in their foundation.”*

Reading into his statement, the Bears’ brass felt that their team couldn’t handle the distraction and that the Eagles were currently structured with a stronger foundation and had the veteran leadership that could handle the extra baggage that Jalen Carter could potentially bring with him.

Not mentioned in his explanation is the fact that the Eagles not only have a strong core of veterans who lead the team on the field and in the locker room, but they also have a lot of Carter’s former Georgia Bulldog teammates.

And the former teammates are not people he considers to be friends, but who he refers to as family. People whom he trusts, and more importantly, people he knows who have his back and who care about him.

So with that “dry cement foundation” the Eagles were willing to make a move and take a calculated risk.

They had the aforementioned former teammates which gave them intel and insight that no other team in the league had the benefit of having.

And with the 9th pick in the 2023 NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select:

Jalen Carter, defensive tackle, Georgia

**Why did the Eagles select Jalen Carter?**

The unique insight into that situation led me to learn more about how NFL teams went about evaluating players who have had a complicated or checkered past.

I reached out to many people, but most declined to comment, luckily, a handful were willing. I also utilized a couple of studies on the topic.

**Study: Off-Field Issues Create NFL Draft Bargains**

In one conversation, a team employee cited an independent study that found NFL teams under-value players who have had off-field character issues.A recent study examined the performance of NFL players with off-field character concerns compared to those without such issues. The research showed that players with character issues actually performed better in the league than those drafted right before or after them, indicating they may have been undervalued in the draft.

Another study conducted by Hamilton College analyzed NFL draft data over five years and categorized player behavior into three groups: those arrested but not charged, those arrested and charged, and those suspended for other reasons not related to arrests.

The findings indicated that players arrested but not charged were predicted to start and play more games, suggesting that they were undervalued due to character concerns. However, players suspended for behavioral issues showed a negative impact on their on-field performance.

In summary, players with criminal charges were selected later in the draft compared to those with no history of off-field issues, even if they had similar college stats and combine results. Additionally, college players suspended for breaking team rules were typically drafted later, indicating that violating school rules had a more significant impact on future success in the NFL than breaking the law.

Common reasons teams may pass on or downgrade a player’s value include not treating their career professionally, lacking elite skills despite being a great athlete, prioritizing celebrity status over football, recurrent injuries, poor combine performance, and issues with teammates and coaches.

Off-field issues such as drug usage and theft can also influence how teams assess player value. Several examples of players who faced off-field challenges but went on to have successful NFL careers were highlighted, including Cam Newton, Warren Sapp, Randy Moss, and the cautionary tale of Lawrence Phillips.

Teams often prioritize risk assessment when making draft selections, considering factors like injuries, background, and projected future production. Building a team with strong character, as demonstrated by the Eagles in the past, can provide the flexibility to take calculated risks that other teams may avoid.

Ultimately, the NFL Draft is a crucial event for teams to secure their future success, and those who effectively assess risks and prioritize character in their selections are more likely to succeed in the long run.

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