The Philadelphia Eagles got arguably the best player in the NFL Draft at the ninth overall selection, but there's a big reason why that was the case.
Standout defensive lineman Jalen Carter's stock fell in part due to his involvement from a January high-speed crash that killed his former Georgia teammate Devin Willock and Chandler LeCroy, a recruiting staffer.
It was revealed during the NFL Scouting Combine that Carter was the driver of a vehicle that raced the Jeep that Willock and LeCroy were in. The latter vehicle crashed after traveling at speeds over 100 mph, killing Willock and LeCroy.
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Carter was charged with two misdemeanor counts of reckless driving and racing, and he pleaded no contest. He was sentenced to 12 months' probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. Carter was also ordered to serve 80 hours of community service and will have to complete a state-approved defensive driving course.
But while his stock fell, the Eagles were still aggressive in grabbing him, and felt they couldn't wait any longer — so they traded from the No. 10 selection up one spot to nab the defensive lineman.
Carter met with Philadelphia media right after he was selected, but one reporter felt that he did not “come across as accountable” for his involvement in the deadly crash.
General manager Howie Roseman and head coach Nick Srianni took exception to that assessment.
“I don't think that's fair. What, do you want him to talk about an active investigation at that time?” Roseman replied. “I mean, at the end of the day he just got drafted, and you're asking him and putting him on the spot on that.”
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“I think it's hard on a Zoom to feel out a person's heart and their accountability,” added Sirianni. “I just don't think it's fair how you said you didn't feel like that.”
Of course, Carter's role in the crash will carry with him for a long while, but Roseman feels he and his organization have the right support system in place to eventually have Carter known solely as a football player.
“Obviously, that's part of what we're talking about. We've got to develop the people. We've got to develop the player. I think for us, we take that part seriously,” Roseman said, via CBS Sports. “We think that it's important that not only are we caring about people as players, but we want to care about the people. We're going to wrap our arms around him and do the best we can to help him and understand — that was a tragic night. It was a tragic night, and we're sorry for the loss to those families, and we're not trying to downplay that situation, but obviously we've got to get to work.”
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Later in the draft, the Eagles took Georgia linebacker Nolan Smith with the 30th pick. Last year, Philadelphia also drafted two defensive Bulldogs in Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean.