Jalen Carter didn't slide out of the top 10, after all.
The Philadelphia Eagles selected the Georgia defensive lineman with the No. 9 overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft on Thursday night after trading up with the Chicago Bears. The Bears, who had already traded away the top pick in the draft to the Carolina Panthers months ago, acquired the No. 10 overall pick, which they used to select Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright, and a 2024 fourth-round pick.
The Eagles didn't stop adding to the D-line or taking national champions on Thursday night as they used their second first-round draft choice on Georgia pass rusher Nolan Smith at No. 30 overall.
Smith and Carter will add to an already formidable defensive front that includes the Eagles' first-round pick from a season ago, Carter and Smith's former Bulldogs teammate Jordan Davis. The Eagles have now taken three straight Georgia defensive linemen in the opening round.
Considered one of the top talents in the ’23 class, Carter was predicted by many to potentially fall down the draft board due to concerns over off-the-field issues. But the Eagles swooped in with the hopes of adding a game-changer.
The 21-year-old Carter was booked and released March 1 on misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing, stemming from an investigation into a fatal Jan. 15 car crash. Carter subsequently pleaded no contest to those charges on March 16 and was sentenced to serve 12 months of probation, pay a $1,000 fine, perform 80 hours of community service and complete a state-approved defensive driving course.
Carter's performance at the Bulldogs' pro day drew mixed reviews.
On Thursday, however, Carter's overall promise to be a special talent in the middle of a Super Bowl-ready defense was enough for Eagles general manager Howie Roseman to make a move for.
Carter, who won back-to-back College Football Playoff National Championships, is a difference-maker on the field and is considered one of the most physically gifted players in the entire draft.
The 314-pound defensive tackle owns an explosive first step with the power to bully interior blockers and take on double teams. His quickness sets Carter apart from other defensive tackles, with stark change-of-direction ability and quickness in tight quarters.
In three seasons at Georgia as part of the Bulldogs' deep D-line rotation, Carter generated six sacks, 83 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.
As for Smith, the Bulldog edge rusher is a twitched-up athlete with speed and burst at the point of attack. Smith blew up the NFL Scouting Combine, posting a 4.39 40-yard dash and added a 41.5-inch vertical.
A four-year player in the SEC, Smith posted 110 total tackles, 20 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks.
The 22-year-old missed the final six games of the 2022 campaign due to a torn pectoral muscle. In his junior campaign in 2021, Smith compiled 53 tackles, eight for loss, 4.5 sacks, an interception and three forced fumbles in 12 games.
At 6-foot-2, he's an undersized edge lacking bulk, but owns elite burst and change-of-direction ability. Scouts have likened his ability to that of Eagles star pass rusher Haason Reddick -- who is now his teammate.