Seahawks Draft Profile: Polarizing Jalen Carter may be best available player

Apr 24, 2023, 11:57 AM | Updated: 12:12 pm

Seattle Seahawks draft profile Jalen Carter...

Georgia DT Jalen Carter waves to the crowd before the national championship game on Jan. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The nearly four-month journey from the end of the Seattle Seahawks season to their first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft is almost over. And in that time since it was made official that the Hawks would draft No. 5 overall with the pick they received via trade from the Denver Broncos, the name Jalen Carter has come up an awful lot.

What to know about Jalen Carter’s time at Georgia

At first, it seemed like a pie in the sky idea. The game-wrecking Georgia defensive tackle appeared to be the most talented player in the draft, and therefore it seemed unlikely he would make it through four other teams and still be available when the Seahawks came up.

Then came the off-field issues.

He was involved in a drag racing incident early this year in which a teammate and a Georgia staffer both died, and after pleading no contest to reckless driving and racing charges – both misdemeanors – he was sentenced to a fine, community service and probation.

Making matters worse, not only did he not work out at the NFL Scouting Combine, but when he participated at Georgia’s pro day, he showed up nine pounds heavier than at the combine and he reportedly couldn’t complete the workout due to cramping and heavy breathing.

So just days away from the draft, the player who initially seemed like the best-case scenario for the Seahawks at No. 5 is perhaps the biggest question mark in the entire class. At the same time, now it’s Seattle that appears to be the best-case scenario for Carter, as ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller said earlier this month. But as FOX college football analyst Brock Huard detailed during his draft profile of Carter on Monday’s edition of Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports, the combination of the Seahawks’ biggest need and the upside of Carter still makes him a “tantalizing” option.

“Aside from being out of shape,” Huard said, “aside from trying to understand his offseason and the trials and the grief and everything that he dealt with, and aside from an awful, awful workout that (made former Seahawks linebacker) K.J. Wright say, ‘I am done. I am over it. If you can’t come in shape for the biggest interview of your life, I don’t want you in front of me, as a linebacker, covering me up and being a monster’ – aside from all of that, it’s the Seahawks’ biggest need, man. That’s what makes this tantalizing at No. 5, and that is where my bias probably comes into this.”

That quote may set off some alarms coming less than a week after Seahawks general manager John Schneider told Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob that the team has tended to do better when drafting the best player available rather than drafting for need, but Huard and his co-host, Mike Salk, agreed that it’s not quite that. With Carter, he likely fits the bill for both best player and Seattle’s biggest need.

Here’s a look at their exchange:

Huard: “This isn’t like any of the need versus best player.”

Salk: “It’s need and best player. And premium position.”

Huard: “And one that some would argue there’s less dominant, premium guys at that position than there are at quarterback in this league. … You’re talking about the same scarcity of talent at that position, and that’s what makes him tantalizing at five.”

Salk: “It’s amazing how polarizing he is for everybody.”

Huard: “The most in this draft.”

Listen to Huard’s full draft profile of Carter in the podcast below, which includes cuts of several football insiders who have raved about the defensive tackle’s talent this draft season on Seattle Sports.

More Seattle Seahawks draft coverage

Draft Profile: Upside, concerns with Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson
Rost: Two first-round ‘wild cards’ for the Seattle Seahawks
Could Iowa’s Jack Campbell be the next great Seattle Seahawks linebacker?
Draft Profile: How ‘most talented’ OL Skoronski could fit Hawks
Why Huard would trade two firsts to get Will Anderson to Seattle Seahawks

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