June 03, 2023
As we do every offseason, we'll be comparing each of the Philadelphia Eagles' rookies to current or former NFL players. We'll start off the series by trying to find a comp for first-round defensive tackle Jalen Carter.
The player who Carter reminds me of in many ways is Jeffery Simmons.
Coming out of Mississippi State, Simmons was an extremely talented defensive tackle prospect with power, explosiveness, speed, and change of direction ability. Absent serious character concerns (we'll get to that momentarily), he likely would have been a top 10 pick, and possibly top 5. Instead, he fell to the Titans at pick 19, and has since become a two-time All Pro. As you can see below, he was pretty close to the full package as an on-field prospect who won in a variety of ways:
Still, even with his obvious physical ability, Simmons did not have eye-popping stats (just 7 career sacks at MSU) and was thus thought of by some as a "high upside" prospect, as opposed to a pretty clear stud player with a high likelihood for success at the pro level.
Carter possesses all of the same athletic traits as Simmons, and more. At Georgia, Carter won with power, explosiveness, speed, and change of direction skills, just like Simmons did, but he was also very stout, as he could anchor against double teams and was very effective when two-gapping, which was not necessarily of strength of Simmons' in college.
Like Simmons, Carter's college production (6 career sacks) is a worry for some. Also, as noted above, Simmons had a disturbing incident to overcome. He has been able to put that behind him and find success in the NFL. Carter's character concerns are of a different variety, but like Simmons, they caused him to fall in the draft.
There are no questions about Carter's overall ability. Whether he can make the most of his talents in the pros will determine whether he can become a redemption story like Simmons, or not.
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