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Jalen Carter Situation Could Play Into Cardinals Pick At No. 3

Georgia defensive lineman facing legal trouble after fatal crash

The media podium sits empty during what was supposed to be Jalen Carter's session on Wednesday.
The media podium sits empty during what was supposed to be Jalen Carter's session on Wednesday.

INDIANAPOLIS – The Cardinals have choices to make with the No. 3 overall pick in April's draft.

And the variables can change, as they and the rest of the NFL saw on Wednesday morning at the Scouting combine.

News broke that Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter, a potential No. 1 overall pick and a player that would be considered heavily by the Cardinals at No. 3 if he were there, had arrest warrants issued for him for reckless driving and racing in Georgia in connection to a fatal car wreck of another vehicle that killed a Georgia teammate and a Georgia recruiting coordinator.

The charges are reportedly misdemeanors. But they were revealed publicly about 30 minutes prior to Carter's scheduled media session, and not surprisingly, Carter did not talk. (Carter later tweeted about the situation.)

However it plays out, it'll will likely be a factor at the top of the draft, a place where quarterbacks figure to go high and the Cardinals could have the chance to take the best non-QB available.

"Hopefully we never have (No. 3) again," Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort said. "The key is not wanting to be here. A lot of losses had to go into us being the No. 3 pick. But with a new group coming in here, the No. 3 pick represents an opportunity. It's a chance to get a premium player. Who knows, there may be value in having someone coming up to trade for the pick."

Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon was asked for his evaluation of both Carter and Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson, the other main defensive player expected to be in play at No. 3. If there was a favorite, he wasn't saying, to no one's surprise.

"Those are two premium positions with how we want to play defense," Gannon said. "We'll evaluate those guys like we evaluate everybody … and if they fit being an Arizona Cardinal."

Ossenfort said he hadn't yet gotten any calls about a trade, but with the draft two months away, that's to be expected. What happens above them – whether the Bears at No. 1 deal their pick for a QB-needy team, whether a QB is there at 3 that intrigues another team (and how far back the Cardinals would have to drop) all play into the situation.

So too will be the next couple of months for Carter. Ossenfort repeated what is said often about the draft, about needing to know about the person more than the player. Carter reportedly already met with at least some teams in Indy.

The player? People know Jalen Carter.

"In terms of Carter as a player, it's overused, I guess, but I don't know how else to describe him -- he is just a freak show when you are watching him," NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said before Wednesday's news. "It just looks like he works at a different speed than everybody else on the field. The change of direction, you know, he can kind of teleport from one gap to the next and you are, like, 'I don't know how he got there, but you've got no chance.' "