The 2022 NFL Draft officially ended on Saturday, which meant social media was littered with fictional early 2023 drafts from analysts on Sunday morning.
Fans shouldn’t give much importance to these early sims, as these players still have an entire season ahead of them. Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler was touted as the potential No. 1 pick of 2022 last spring; after a disappointing season at Norman, Rattler wasn’t even on the NFL’s radar and had to be transferred to South Carolina.
Some players in these sims will fall due to poor performance, while others will emerge and rise to the top after breakout campaigns. However, it’s still interesting to see how the NFL sees the next generation of elite talent expected to enter its ranks.
At first glance, it looks like Georgia will go their way in 2021 and send multiple players in the first round. The Bulldogs set the draft record for most defensemen selected from a school in the first round of the same draft, with five overall.
There’s a Bulldog that constantly sits atop these fictional drafts. Since the second half of his first season, defensive tackle Jalen Carter has been one of Georgia’s most consistent players and projects in the top 5 selections of the 2023 draft.
Georgia had three defensive linemen drafted in the first round, including point carrier Travon Walker, who became No. 1 overall for the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, a sentiment echoed in the scouting world during the pre-draft process: the best player on this 2021 front wasn’t even eligible for the draft.
Scouts praise Carter, and while the hype is warranted, it can’t be complacent. The NFL will be watching carefully how he handles attention; after all, playing defensive tackle to the next level takes incredibly strong willpower.
Next season, he’ll take on a huge workload as defenses begin to structure their passing streaks to counter Carter’s impact. This attention should make him a better player in the long run, but this offseason will be crucial in his development.
His development starts with continuing to improve his conditioning. While playing with maximum effort at all times, Carter appeared visibly gassed numerous times throughout his first season.
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It got better in his second season, but he still has room to grow. He no longer has defensive tackles Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt at his side, which means Carter should see a slight increase in his tally.
Carter must also learn to play a leading role on a defensive front. It’s easy to play sonic gap control and read keys when surrounded by first-round talent; now Carter has to do those things while getting more attention.
While he has areas for improvement, it’s easy to see why the NFL loves Carter. He has the prototypical height and athletic profile, suggesting he can play in multiple next-level lineups, and his character rating matches talent on the pitch.
Head coach Kirby Smart understands he has a budding superstar on his hands and issued a public challenge to Carter, emphasizing that he wanted Carter to become a leader off the court and continue to improve his game.
“I think he played a part in Tray’s room trying to set an example for others. Devonte and Jordan, and really Travon in that same room, did a great job, with Julian. They established a work ethic standard. , and you want whoever, Jalen, Zion, to control that.”
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