Unraveling the Jalen Carter situation and two other Combine notes

NFL Draft News

Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter is widely considered the best or second-best defensive prospect in the upcoming draft – and some analysts believe he could go No. 1 overall to Chicago.

Now, his draft status is up in the air.

Carter was charged Wednesday with reckless driving and racing following a Jan. 15 crash that killed a teammate and an member of the team’s recruiting staff.

Both charges are misdemeanors in Georgia,.

According to media reports, Carter was present at the scene of the crash and then gave conflicting reports of the incident to law enforcement afterward. The arrest warrant alleges Carter was racing his car against Chandler LeCroy, the recruiting staffer, and Devin Willock, a passenger in the car and a former teammate. Both men were killed in the single-vehicle accident.

You can read more about this story here.

This will likely impact Carter’s draft status. One national analyst, CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso, now has Carter falling to No. 17 in his latest mock draft.

Another CBS Sports analyst, former Minnesota Vikings VP of player personnel and general manager Rick Spielman, said timing will play a part in what happens to Carter in the draft. Here’s what he said from the Combine:

“If you’ve already spoken with him, and I know they start interviews here on Monday night and had interviews last night (Tuesday), and he (Jalen Carter) did not bring that situation up and all of the sudden it came up today, you’re going to put a red flag on that.

Here are two other storylines to watch this week:

2) Which QB outside of the top four will emerge as the “next best”?

We already know that C.J. Stroud of Ohio State, Will Levis of Kentucky and Anthony Richardson of Florida will throw, while Alabama’s Bryce Young will not. But don’t forget about some of the other top signal-callers, like Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker, TCU’s Max Duggan, Stanford’s Tanner McKee and Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell. Senior Bowl MVP Jake Haener is another name to watch this week. The Combine will help determine who goes next after the top four.

3) Injury report

Speaking of Hooker … the Combine will give teams a chance to check on the progress of some of the players who have missed time due to injury. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the Ohio State receiver, and Texas Tech pass rusher Tyree Wilson are some of the top prospects whose medical evaluations will come under scrutiny. Did JSN miss most of the season out of caution? Or was the lingering hamstring injury just that – an injury that lingered. And how is Wilson progressing from his fractured foot – will he be ready by training camp? Hooker will also be scrutinized after suffering an ACL tear late in the season. Remember, just because one team says a prospect is healthy doesn’t mean he’ll pass another team’s medical evaluations.

Jake Rigdon (@jrigdon73) covers the NFL draft for Fanspeak.com. His big board is updated at least once per week during the season and leading up to the draft. Message him on Twitter to receive $3 off your new Ultimate GM subscription.

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