Georgia star defensive tackle Jalen Carter is headed to the NFL Draft after three seasons with the Bulldogs. Carter, who is in the running to become the No. 1 overall pick, made the announcement hours after UGA dismantled TCU 65-7 in a historic College Football Playoff National Championship beatdown on Monday night.
"These last 3 years have been exciting. I am most thankful to God for the talent and ability he has given me," Carter wrote. "Without him, I am nothing. I can't thank Coach Smart and his staff enough for their commitment to helping me develop into the best version of myself on and off the field. I also want to thank my position coach Tray Scott. My teammates past/present have built bonds that will last a lifetime and what we accomplished together will live on forever. I would also like to thank the fans and the entire UGA community. You all make taking the field between the hedges special."
The blowout victory over the Horned Frogs marked a fitting sendoff for Carter, who helped Georgia field dominant, title-winning defenses over the past two seasons. Carter earned first-team All-America honors in 2022 while racking up seven tackles for loss from his spot on the interior of the defensive line. Carter finished with 32 total tackles this season while often attracting double teams that freed up other members of the Bulldogs' front seven to make plays.
#88out pic.twitter.com/71Buao1Z7O— Jalen Carter (@breadmanjalen) January 10, 2023
A five-star prospect from the Class of 2020, Carter made 14 tackles as a true freshman before breaking out in 2021 while technically second on the depth chart behind eventual first-round draft pick Jordan Davis. Though he wasn't even a starter, Carter looked dominant when on the field during his sophomore season and followed up that campaign with another stellar season to cement his place near the top of draft boards.
Carter's NFL Draft grade
Carter is ranked No. 3 overall in CBS Sports' 2023 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings. CBS Sports NFL Draft writer Ryan Wilson projected Carter to be selected No. 1 overall by the Chicago Bears in his most-recent mock draft.
"The Bears appear to be a team headed in the right direction (Week 18 notwithstanding) in large part because they've found their franchise QB in Justin Fields," Wilson wrote. "But there's a lot of work to do on the other side of the ball after moving on from Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith. Both Jalen Carter and Will Anderson Jr. could be options here, and both are layup selections. Or the team could choose to trade out of the No. 1 pick should there be interest from QB-needy teams looking to move up."
Impact on Georgia
Carter's departure was expected, but his impact on the program will reverberate for a long time, especially if he is picked No. 1 overall. The Bulldogs also had a defender taken with last year's first pick when defensive end Travon Walker went No. 1 to the Philadelphia Eagles. If Carter follows suit, it would only solidify Georgia's place in the sport's talent hierarchy as a prime destination for elite prospects.
Several players should be able to step in and help fill the void left by Carter's departure. Junior defensive tackle Warren Brinson was listed behind Carter on the depth chart for the national title game and could be ready for a larger role after making 12 tackles while playing in reserve duty during all 15 games in the 2022 season. Others such as Zion Logue, Nazir Stackhouse and Bear Alexander also have the frame to play nose tackle.