Will the Detroit Lions embrace the risk and draft Jalen Carter?

SideLion Report

With all the questions around Jalen Carter now, should the Detroit Lions take the plunge and draft him anyway?

Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter once had buzz as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft, and based on pure talent he might still be in that conversation today. He also happens to play the position that is now the Detroit Lions’ top need.

But what started as fairly vague conveyance of character concerns about Carter from ESPN’s Todd McShay has now grown bigger. He has plead no contest to charges related to his role in a January car accident that killed a Georgia teammate and a football staffer, and he was sentenced to 12 months probation with a $1,000 fine, 50 hours of community service and completion of a state-approved safe driving course.

Then Carter showed up to Georgia’s Pro Day a reported nine pounds over his NFL Combine weight. He was unable to finish drills in front of NFL teams who were ready to scrutinize his every move. Not a good look, to say the least.

2023 NFL Draft: Should the Detroit Lions be ready to welcome Jalen Carter into the fold?

At the league meetings this week, general manager Brad Holmes seemed to note the importance of the Lions doing their own evaluation of a draft prospect who has red flags like Carter does. To that end, they will have him in for a pre-draft visit.

Also at the league meetings, via Kyle Meinke of MLive, head coach Dan Campbell seemed open to the idea of drafting someone who doesn’t check all the intangible boxes the Lions have valued highly.

Yeah, I think that’s possible,” “I do think that’s possible. But without the core, you can’t do it. You can’t take a swing at one of those. If you feel like your foundation is set, you can get away with one, maybe two, maybe. But you can get away with one.”

The Lions certainly have built a cultural foundation that could take on and embrace a talented player who brings red flags with him into the league. Carter is the headliner of this year’s draft class in that regard.

Via Marlowe Alter of the Detroit Free Press, ESPN’s Matt Miller pointed to the Lions as the best fit for Carter during a conference call on Friday.

We talked about Jalen Carter earlier, where does he fit,” “I think (Detroit) is the best fit for Jalen Carter, outside of Philly. This is a great fit because you have Dan Campbell. … He’s going to make sure that you’re working.”

Though Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels has refuted the report, the Las Vegas Raiders and Atlanta Falcons are picking in the top-10 and have reportedly taken Carter off their draft board.

The Lions have not, based on the evidence we know right now, taken Carter off their draft board. It could all be a vague attempt at a pre-draft smokescreen, but it feels like they are genuinely doing their own evaluation to see where Carter fits in the “talent vs. trouble” equation. Past regimes couldn’t be counted on to make a good decision there, but there should be absolute confidence Holmes and Campbell will make the right decision on Carter one way or the other.

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