Cause for concern was abundant regarding Jalen Carter ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft, and it’s not going to subside now that the Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman has hit rookie minicamp.
Carter’s conditioning — which was called into question when he struggled at his Georgia pro day — was thought to be a red flag for potential suitors, but after multiple questions on the matter Friday, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni let it be known he has no apprehensions in that area.
“None,” Sirianni said, via team transcript, when asked what his level of concern was regarding Carter’s conditioning.
Viewed as a potential No. 1 overall pick at one point this offseason, Carter was predicted by many to topple down the draft board due to off-the-field issues, but Philadelphia traded up to take him at No. 9 overall.
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Much of the concern related to the 21-year-old Carter came after he was booked and released March 1 on misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing, which stemmed from an investigation into a fatal Jan. 15 car crash. Carter pleaded no contest to those charges on March 16 and was sentenced to serve 12 months of probation, along with payment of a fine, performing 80 hours of community service and completing a state-approved defensive driving course.
On the field — or the practice field as it was — Carter drew mixed reviews when he struggled to finish Georgia’s pro day.
Now with May and rookie camps springing up, Sirianni was adamant he’s not overly concerned with any of his newest Eagles’ conditioning after Day 1.
“These guys have been in hotels,” Sirianni said when first asked how Carter’s conditioning level was. “They have been on 30 visits. They have been getting ready for pro days. They have been getting ready for the combine. So, to say any of them are in really good football shape and they are ready to play a game tomorrow, I would say that’s inaccurate. None of those guys are.
“So, today was not about finding out what their conditioning level was. Today was about going out there and my coaching points to our coaches were, listen, their bodies are not ready to play yet. This is all about protecting the players while still getting ready to play.
“Nobody out there is in the shape that they need to be in, but we are working in that direction. [Carter] looks good. He looked good out there today, and so but like I said, today wasn’t about finding out who was ready conditioning-wise because to be quite frank, none of them are.”
Carter weighed in at 323 pounds on his pro day March 15, which was up nine pounds from his NFL Scouting Combine weight.
Worry over Carter’s focus and staying in football shape is warranted, but Sirianni is confident that Carter will curtail any of these concerns.
“We will get him to what he’s supposed to play at,” Sirianni said, “and I have no doubt in my mind he’ll do whatever he needs to do to be the player he needs to be.”
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