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Jalen Carter: Off-field incident from January will affect his draft status “a little bit”

Chris Simms explains to Mike Florio why Jalen Carter is arguably the best defensive player in the 2023 NFL Draft, what makes No. 2 Calijah Kancey a “bull in a China shop” and more.

A new Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel profile of agent Drew Rosenhaus focuses in part on his representation of Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter. Carter has become one of the most controversial prospects in this year’s draft, due in large part to a no-contest plea to speeding and reckless driving charges after a multi-car incident that resulted in two people dying.

During the segment, Rosenhaus and HBO’s Jon Frankel visit with Carter. Frankel asks Carter if he believes the incident will matter on draft day.

“Yeah, I feel like it’s gonna matter a little bit,” Carter said in response. “Because, you know, NFL teams look deep into your life. But it could’ve been something I did back in elementary [school]. You know, I’m pretty sure they’d know. So you know, this coming out at the time it did come out I’m pretty sure is going to affect a little bit.”

Carter also said that “a couple teams asked me about it” during the pre-draft process, “but they really didn’t get too in depth about the accident.” Said Carter, “They just wanted to hear my side and that was it.”

The segment also shows Rosenhaus calling ESPN’s Adam Schefter and explaining that Carter won’t visit teams not drafting in the top 10.

“I wouldn’t decline these visits if I wasn’t confident that he was going to go in the top ten,” Rosenhaus says into the phone. “This is a good guy. Jalen is a good kid. We’ll stay in touch on this one. I know he is going to be one of the more compelling stories of the draft. You bet, Adam. Take care man, sure.”

Within “minutes,” per Frankel, Schefter posted a tweet: “Georgia DT Jalen Carter is visiting the Bears today. It is his second visit, with him already having visited the Eagles. Carter’s agent Drew Rosenhaus said he is declining visit requests for any team drafting outside the top 10 picks. ‘I’m confident Jalen will go in the top 10,’ Rosenhaus said. ‘He’s a good person, a family man, loves football and is a generational talent.’”

Agents like Rosenhaus usually aren’t on the record for calls like this, but that’s how the insider sausage gets made, either by voice or -- more commonly -- by group text, with Schefter sometimes getting his a few minutes before everyone else.

So what happens on draft night if Carter starts to slide? Specifically, what will Rosenhaus do if Carter is still on the board after No. 5, where the Seahawks are currently due to pick?

“I will tell him in the green room to keep a stiff upper lip and to maintain a positive attitude that we’re going to be drafted at any second now,” Rosenhaus said. “And yes, I’ll be on the other line calling teams and saying, ‘You better pick this guy right now, because I’m talking to other clubs that could potentially take him.’”

So what happens if you’re wrong? Frankel asked.

“I won’t be,” Rosenhaus said. “I won’t be.”

This further underscores that the decision not to visit with teams not drafting in the top 10 wasn’t a stunt or a gamble. It was a reflection of Rosenhaus knowing with certainty that someone within the top 10 will take Carter, if he’s there. That flows from the kind of relationships that someone like Rosenhaus has created through 35 years in the business.