Eagles rookie pays off the massive hype on first NFL snap

Jalen Carter, Philadelphia Eagles (Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
Jalen Carter, Philadelphia Eagles (Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports) /

Philadelphia Eagles first-round pick Jalen Carter is already delivering on the hype in preseason action. 

“They can’t keep getting away with it!!!!” was the general tenor of the response to the Philadelphia Eagles selecting Georgia’s Jalen Carter with the No. 9 pick in April’s NFL Draft. Carter was slotted at No. 1 on most mock drafts during the season, but his stock plummeted due to off-field incidents.

Carter ended up with the reigning NFC champs as a result. The Eagles were the best regular season team in the NFL last season and defense played a major role. DC Jonathan Gannon left to take the head coaching gig in Arizona over the summer, but the Eagles project as one of the league’s most stingy defenses all the same — with Carter expected to assume starting duties on the defensive line.

Any lingering concerns about Carter’s commitment to winning were dashed in Eagles training camp, where he received rave reviews. Now with preseason action underway, Carter is delivering on the hype with impressive plays at the line of scrimmage. Here’s his first NFL snap:

Jalen Carter looks like NFL Draft steal in first snaps with Philadelphia Eagles

“It did kind of [make me] smile,” Carter told the Delaware News Journal. “First play of my NFL season, getting to the quarterback, that was pretty awesome. I plan on doing that more.”

It’s far too early to make sweeping statements about Carter’s NFL future, but he was always significantly overqualified for a ninth overall pick. He was the lifeblood of UGA’s title-winning defense two years in a row. Carter is a monster athlete at 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds, blessed with uncommon explosiveness and mobility for a lineman with his raw strength.

The Eagles have arguably the most impressive front line in football, with Carter flanked by Pro Bowl veterans Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, and Josh Sweat. The Eagles have double, triple, and quadruple-dipped in the UGA defensive pool in recent drafts. Nolan Smith, Nakobe Dean, and Kelee Ringo all have bright NFL futures too. Stockpiling players from the best defense in modern college football history feels like a sound strategy from Howie Roseman and the front office.

Philadelphia will begin next season where they ended last season: as favorites in the NFC. There are hurdles that lie ahead. San Francisco and Dallas feel like particularly strong threats to the Eagles’ crown. But, no front office has more proficiently constructed their roster top-to-bottom. It’s not often that players with No. 1 pick pedigree join the reigning conference champs. Expect Carter to immediately elevate the Eagles’ already-elite defense with his constant QB pressure and brick-wall presence at the line of scrimmage.

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