One of the biggest questions heading into the 2023 NFL Draft is where Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter will land. Once thought to be arguably the best talent in this year’s entire class, this offseason has raised certain red flags for the prospect. First, he was involved in an alleged street racing incident that ended in the deaths of two people. A couple months later, he showed up to his pro day and appeared, according to those on hand, a little out of shape.
The Detroit Lions could be one of the teams in play for Carter with the sixth overall pick, and they have a relatively big need at defensive tackle. So, naturally, they brought him in for a top-30 visit this week. On Thursday during his pre-draft press conference, Lions general manager Brad Holmes was asked about how the visit went and gave a very brief answer.
“Yeah he came in and he did a nice job,” Holmes said. “Yeah, again, it’s always case-by-case. (He) came in, we enjoyed our time with him, he did a nice job. I’ll say even after he left our visit, I felt better on him.”
It’s obviously a positive comment on Carter, but it’s also a pretty tepid statement. If you watch the press conference itself—his comments on Carter can be seen around the 11:35 mark here—he’s not exactly showing a ton of enthusiasm.
Of course, as an NFL general manager, it’s part of his job description to hide his true intentions on an individual prospect until after the draft. If he seems too eager or too dismissive of a candidate, it could reveal his intentions to other teams, and that could impact their likelihood of landing said player.
The Lions have been purposely vague when it comes to their thoughts on Carter throughout the process. Even coach Dan Campbell told a story about Carter but made sure to keep key information behind closed doors.
“We talked to a teammate of his the other day and, man, he told us some things we didn’t know,” Campbell said at the NFL Combine. “That nobody probably would’ve known. It was like, ‘Oh, that’s interesting. That’s pretty good (to know)’.”
When asked if it was good or bad news, Campbell just responded, “It’s interesting.”
The Lions strongly value “football character,” and it remains to be seen whether Carter fits inside that qualification. That said, Holmes indicated there are certain risks they may deem worthy of undertaking and some that aren’t.
“We like our locker room. We do feel like we have a good, strong locker room,” Holmes said. “So if you have a player who has some concerns, yeah, there are some guys you can bring in and it’s going to be fine. There are some guys that you might be like, ‘Yeah, I don’t know if it’s going to work.’ It’s just case-by-case always.”
Which category Carter falls into will likely be revealed on draft day—that is, if he even falls to the Lions with the sixth overall pick. He is currently the third-highest favorite to go to the Seattle Seahawks with the fifth pick (+300), behind Will Anderson (+200) and Tyree Wilson (+250). Carter is also the third-highest favorite to land in Detroit (+380), trailing heavy favorite Devon Witherspoon (-120) and Christian Gonzalez (+350), per DraftKings Sportsbook.