Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith earn superlatives from Pro Football Focus

On3 imageby:Jake Rowe03/24/23


The 2023 NFL Draft is a little over a month away and it is expected to be another strong showing for Georgia in round one. The closer we get to the seven-round event, the more it looks like defensive tackle Jalen Carter and outside linebacker Nolan Smith will be taken in the first 31 picks.

Pro Football Focus certainly likes what it saw from Carter and Smith in 2022. In a recent article outlining its defensive superlatives for the 2023 NFL Draft, Carter received two nods and Smith one.

Jalen Carter

Carter garnered mention from PFF for having the best hands of the interior defensive linemen and for being the most versatile.

Best Hands: “The uniting factor between the two best defensive linemen in this draft class is their ability to manipulate offensive linemen with their upper bodies. Carter has some of the more powerful hands you’ll ever see from a defensive line prospect, especially one that’s not a hulking nose tackle. The power he showed on tape for only a true junior was special.”

Most Versatile: “Part of the beauty of Carter’s game is his ability to win in so many different ways. He has the lower-body strength to get plopped down at nose tackle, the length (33 ½-inch arms) to go toe-to-toe with offensive tackles, and the quickness to get past guards, which is why he was the top non-quarterback on the PFF draft board prior to his off-field issues this spring.”

Carter was basically a non-factor for the first half of Georgia’s 2022 regular season. He suffered an ankle injury on the first play of the season against Oregon and wasn’t back to 100 percent until after Georgia’s bye week in late October. He went on to pile up seven tackles for loss and three sacks with teams game-planning to contain him.

Nolan Smith

Smith’s season was basically the inverse of Carter’s. The only game where they shared the field and were healthy was the Florida game. Smith used the first eight games of the season to pile up three sacks and seven tackles for loss.

He turned in a tremendous 40-yard-dash at the combine, running it in 4.39 seconds and PFF loves how the Savannah, Ga. native gets off the football.

Best Get-Off: “It may not be terribly surprising that the edge who runs a 4.39-second 40 with a 41.5-inch vertical and 10-foot-8 broad jump has an elite get-off. Flip on the tape, and it matched those testing numbers from Indy. He is the best pure speed-rushing prospect in this class and can be an impact run defender as well with his get-off despite being undersized (238 pounds).”

Smith has been projected as high as the top 10 but is mostly being considered as a top 20 prospect. The 2022 NFL Draft will get started on April 27 and run for three days. The first day will consist of the first round only. Rounds two and three will take place on day two and rounds four through seven will be completed on day three.

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