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Jalen Carter pushes back against the pre-draft process; more top prospects should

Mike Florio and Chris Simms analyze the risk of Jalen Carter deciding not to visit with teams drafting outside the Top 10 and evaluate how concerning his Pro Day workout was.

It’s great to see a player pushing back against the draft industrial complex, refusing to go along with the it’s a job interview mantra that justifies poking and prodding and interrogation and travel from city to city to city to city. It’s curious, however, to see the one top prospect with the most red flags taking a stand.

Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter has made a calculated risk by refusing to visit teams not picking in the top 10.

It’s possible that his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, knows with certainty that Carter won’t make it past the Eagles at No. 10. Despite the endless pre-draft smokescreens, there are situations in which an agent, given his relationships throughout the league, has reliable, trustworthy information as to when a client will be drafted.

It’s possible that Rosenhaus is trying to speak a top-1o draft position into existence. One league source suggested that Rosenhaus may be utilizing the Steve Jobs “reality distortion field.” It wouldn’t be unprecedented.

Twenty years ago, Rosenhaus pretended to be on the phone, supposedly with a team interested in drafting running back Willis McGahee, as the Bills went on the clock with the 23rd pick in the draft.

“I didn’t want it to make it look like our phones weren’t ringing,” Rosenhaus said at the time. “Willis and I had a little chat to create the perception that we weren’t waiting for teams to call us.”

This time around, Rosenhaus could be creating the perception that Carter already knows he’ll be a top-10 pick.

There’s another possibility for Carter’s position that he’s restricting visits to the teams in the top 10. He simply might not be interested in being grilled again and again about the incident that resulted in a no-contest plea to racing and reckless driving charges. He also may not want to talk about the struggles from his Pro Day workout.

If we truly care about the mental health of athletes, there’s a point at which those advising him should factor the overall stress and strain of being repeatedly questioned about difficult subjects. Maybe, in hindsight, Carter should have postponed or canceled his Pro Day workout, given the distraction arising from the criminal charges filed against him. Maybe, for now, the best move is to cut off the number of occasions during which he’ll be grilled -- especially by the teams that have a less realistic chance to get him.

Unless he does indeed slip down the board.

Again, there’s a calculated risk. Even if Rosenhaus has been told that Carter’s floor is no lower than No. 10, there’s a risk in trusting that information.

All things considered, it’s an encouraging move. Not nearly enough players resist the excessive demands and expectations of the pre-draft process. More should refuse visits. More should refuse workouts. More should refuse to go to the Combine. More should refuse to show up at the draft without an appearance fee. More should refuse to sign with the team that drafts them.

Most are brainwashed into believing it’s all an honor and a privilege. Most are brainwashed into thinking they have no power over the process. Most are brainwashed into accepting the decisions made by teams as fate or predetermination or whatever.

Basically, Jalen Carter shouldn’t be the only one doing this. It stands out because, this year, he is.

In future years, hopefully more top prospects will follow Carter’s lead, and expand on it.