The Falcons could go in any direction with their first-round pick. There isn’t an area on the list that doesn’t need improvement on both sides of the ball. However, Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot have reiterated that the pass rush will be a point of attention this offseason, and Jalen Carter would go a long way to addressing that issue.
This continues my streak of potential first-round targets for the Falcons. If you missed any of the previous editions of this series, follow the links below.
I’m not going to say too much about Jalen Carter’s outstanding legal issues. Full details are yet to be known, but if what has been reported is true, the youngster has made a stupid mistake that could cost him dearly come draft time. How far could he fall? I’m not sure anyone can answer that today. For now, I still see him as a player who will probably enter the top 10, but a lot could change by then.
Off-court issues aside, Jalen Carter could very well be the best player in the draft. He’s been highly touted since high school, landing in Georgia as a five-star rookie. He saw action in eight games as a rookie, recording three tackles for loss. As a full-time starter over the next two years, Carter racked up 15.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks. It might not be the flashy numbers that scream “elite prospect,” but the gang would say otherwise.
Carter is a troublemaker in the middle of the defensive line. He weighs 6-foot-3, 310 pounds and has the strength to move offensive linemen at will. His speed and athleticism are also elite for the position. Carter is a fantastic team defender, whose impact doesn’t always show on the stat sheet. Next to Grady Jarrett, the two would combine to form one of the deadliest inside defense duos in the league.
If there’s one knock on Carter as a prospect, it’s his lack of pass rushing production. He only had six sacks over three seasons; That being said, the tools are there to allow him to improve in this area. Is he going to be the next Aaron Donald when it comes to getting after the quarterback? Absolutely not, but he will constantly find ways to disrupt play, both against the run and the pass. I see Carter as a prospect not to be missed. At the very least, he’ll be a high-quality starter in the NFL.
Photographer: Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire