Draft analyst Matt Miller: Seahawks ‘best-case scenario’ for Jalen Carter

Apr 6, 2023, 3:32 PM | Updated: Apr 11, 2023, 12:40 pm

Seattle Seahawks Jalen Carter...

Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter vs Kentucky on Nov. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb, File)

(AP Photo/Michael Clubb, File)

With the Seattle Seahawks holding the No. 5 pick in this year’s NFL Draft, Mike Salk of Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk thinks there’s a “nightmare scenario” for them.

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In that scenario, the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans would take the two top quarterbacks – CJ Stroud of Ohio State and Alabama’s Bryce Young – with the first two picks. After that, the Arizona Cardinals would take Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson, who is considered the top player in the draft, while the Indianapolis Colts at No. 4 would take a quarterback the Seahawks have been tied to in Florida’s Anthony Richardson.

If that’s what goes down, what should the Seahawks do with the No. 5 pick? For ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller, he actually thinks it’s not that hard of a question.

“I’d take Jalen Carter. I almost feel like it’s that simple,” Miller told Brock and Salk on Wednesday. “If Jalen Carter goes three, you take Will Anderson. If Will Anderson goes three, you take Jalen Carter.”

Carter, an All-American defensive tackle from Georgia, entered the draft process in competition with Anderson for the title of top defensive prospect, but a number of issues have popped up that may have teams concerned about selecting the talented defender.

Carter was involved in a drag racing incident in January that resulted in the death of a teammate and Georgia staffer. He pleaded no contest to charges of reckless driving and drag racing and paid a fine while being sentenced to probation and community service. He didn’t work out at the NFL Scouting Combine, instead opting to work out at Georgia’s pro day.

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That pro day did not go well for Carter, as he showed up nine pounds heavier than he’d weighed in at the combine, and he couldn’t complete the workout due to reported cramping and heavy breathing.

Miller said the Seahawks should also take phone calls for that No. 5 pick in case a team wants to trade up for a quarterback, but he thinks Carter is worthy of being taken with that fifth overall pick.

“I still think Jalen Carter is gonna go in the top nine, and there’s a very good chance he just goes five, or three to five,” he said. “But if he’s there, I still think that he’s almost too good of a talent to pass on.”

Miller noted that the Seahawks were “burned in the past” by a highly-drafted prospect with character concerns in D-tackle Malik McDowell in 2017, who didn’t play a single game for Seattle, but he also pointed out that edge rusher Frank Clark had red flags coming out of Michigan and he wound up being a very good player for the Hawks after being drafted in 2015.

“So I think there is a precedent for like, hey, this is a front office that will take a risk,” he said.

Seattle Seahawks ‘best-case scenario’ for Carter

Miller thinks there’s a key reason why the Seahawks might actually be the best spot for Carter.

“I think you’ve got such a good leadership group, and that’s what Jalen Carter needs,” he said. “… This isn’t a person who’s a bad guy, he just needs leadership. He needs somebody that will put their arm around him and say, ‘Hey, here’s how we do things.’ And you have Bobby Wagner, you have Jarran Reed, Dre’Mont Jones, Quandre Diggs. You have leaders, like capital ‘L’ leaders, on this defense. And you also have a head coach, Pete Carroll, who is able to garner respect from so many different types of players.

“I actually think Seattle is probably the best-case scenario for Jalen Carter to meet his ceiling because you’ve got the structure there that he needs.”

Salk asked Miller about Carter’s production, or lack thereof. He had three sacks in each of the last two seasons and 15.5 total tackles for loss in that time.

“I think a lot of it was the rotation that he played in. That’s probably the simplest answer is that he was not a full-time player. No one was at Georgia,” Miller said.

Carter was part of two national championship teams at Georgia, and in 2021, he played on a defensive line with three 2022 first-round picks, including No. 1 overall selection Travon Walker. None of those players were full-time players in college, Miller said.

“The way they rotate their D-line definitely affects that,” he said.

Looking at that 2021 Bulldogs team, Miller thought Carter was the best player on their defense in terms of “football traits” as well as impact, and that defense was loaded with NFL talent across the board.

Additionally, colleges are able to gameplan for single players and take them out of games more so than in the NFL, Miller said. Carter also dealt with some injuries in 2022.

“I think there’s also tape where, yeah, he got his butt kicked. I think the Florida game is a good example of O’Cyrus Torrence, their right guard, he gave Carter all he could handle,” he said. “And I think that’s the maturity of Jalen Carter as a football player is you’re too talented to get shut down. He’s one of the best defensive tackle prospects I’ve seen in 10 years from a traits standpoint. But you’re too good to not have a great game against everyone you play basically.”

Listen to the full discussion with Miller at this link or in the player below.

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