How will Jalen Carter’s arrest impact his NFL Draft stock and the Cardinals’ pick?
What happened during and around the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis did not make for the biggest shift in draft stocks over the past week. Instead, it was Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter’s arrest on misdemeanors for his alleged involvement in a deadly car accident that drastically shifts his value.
How teams judge him moving forward could butterfly-effect the entire shape of the first round.
For the Arizona Cardinals, Carter’s arrest was significant beyond how general manager Monti Ossenfort reshuffles his big board around the news.
In the Arizona Sports mock draft tracker last updated Feb. 28 leading into the combine, 24 out of 63 mock-makers had Carter going to Arizona. It was just behind the 27 who had the Cardinals targeting Alabama edge Will Anderson Jr.
Carter’s stock now takes a hit. While he was released on bail and returned to the combine, the uncertainty about his stock likely has cooled teams’s interest, if not raised the reddest of flags.
Three significant draft voices could help us try to answer that question.
ESPN’s Todd McShay’s mock draft released on Tuesday has Arizona drafting Anderson. The mock has Carter falling all the way to 12th, where the Houston Texans nab him with their second first-round pick.
McShay’s intel informs us that NFL teams in the know can’t exactly judge what will happen regarding Carter moving forward.
I’ll start by stressing that Carter’s draft range is an unknown right now. He was arrested last week on charges of reckless driving and racing in connection with a crash that killed a Bulldogs teammate and a recruiting staff member, and teams are doing their due diligence as they sort through the situation. No one I’ve spoken to around the league knows how it will impact his stock or what comes next. It’s likely Carter will fall a bit, but we don’t know how far — so take this projection with that context.
McShay had Carter ranked No. 3 on his big board before the arrest but now lists him 13th.
The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, in his third mock draft, unsurprisingly has Arizona going with Anderson at the No. 3 pick. Carter doesn’t fall far in this one, down to fifth to the Seattle Seahawks.
Brugler had Carter going fourth overall and behind Anderson to the Cardinals in his prior mock — so not much movement there.
Finally, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein like Brugler has Carter going fifth to Seattle. It’s a four-spot drop after Zierlein had Carter leading off the selections, going first to the Chicago Bears in his first mock draft.
Regarding the Cardinals, Zierlein throws a twist in this one. Arizona trades down to seventh so the Las Vegas Raiders can draft quarterback C.J. Stroud at third.
Ossenfort still gets his pass-rusher, with Texas Tech edge Tyree Wilson sitting there for the taking.
All-in-all, it appears Arizona still will have a premier front-seven player available. Ossenfort probably won’t have as much of a toss-up decision as he might’ve a week ago.