Inglewood, CA. – The hype train keeps rolling for the Eagles’ Jalen Carter after the star rookie who many have proclaimed a generational talent outplayed battle-tested generational star and certain future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald in the Eagles’ 23-14 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
— John Gonoude (@john_gonoude) October 10, 2023
To say the start of Carter’s NFL career has gone well is understating things. The No. 9 overall pick in April’s draft leads all rookies in sacks (3.5), pressures (23), and pass-rush win rate (20.9) percent. He had two sacks against the Rams.
Think of it this way: somehow the Eagles lost a $20 million defensive tackle in free agency (Javon Hargrave to San Francisco) and got better.
“We obviously see the kind of player he is and that he can be and continues to grow in that role and continues to keep doing better and better every week,” defensive coordinator Sean Desai said. “There are things he keeps improving on.”
Desai is particularly impressed with the impact Carter is having on his own teammates as well.
“In terms of ripple effect, anytime somebody makes a play, it’s an amplifier, energy,” said Desai. “It brings a tremendous amount of energy to the rest of the guys on the squad and he’s a guy that’s been making plays and Haas [LB Haason Reddick] made some big plays in that game. We got a big PBU by J.B. [CB James Bradberry], and we get some opportunities there that — we grade them as havoc plays.
“When you can create some disruptions, some havoc on defense, that’s a big thing, and they’re huge for energy and momentum swings.”
The most amazing part of it all is that Carter is just scratching the surface of his potential as a player.
“Phenomenal player who works really hard to continue to get better, and that’s been a phenomenal player through the first five weeks and so he’s just got to keep doing it,” head coach Nick Sirianni said Monday. “We saw that he was a phenomenal player in college, right? He’s had a great first five weeks. We have high hopes for him.”
Sirianni has been around long enough to know what separates the true superstars like Donald from the really good players in the NFL.
“[Carter] has to keep proving it over and over and over again,” said Sirianni. “Because if you want to be considered in the top part of this league as a football player, it’s about consistency and it’s about doing it year-in and year-out. So, he’s had a good start. He has to continue to put the work in.
“We know he has the talent.”
Carter’s 91.8 Pro Football Focus grade is the top mark in the league for a defensive tackle and his 23 pressures are tied with Donald for the most in the NFL despite limited snaps on what is the NFL’s deepest defensive front.
In Eagles lore, Carter is already No. 3 for rookie DTs in sacks with Fletcher Cox (4) next up and Corey Simon (9.5) within reach.
Cox and fellow veteran Brandon Graham have been instrumental in Carter’s quick assimilation into the league.
“He’s got great guys to lean on,” said Sirianni. “He’s just got to continue to be on the rise. I think you’ve seen that he’s gotten a little bit better each week.
“We won’t put him in Canton, yet. He’s got to just keep going each and every day and getting better, and it’s about consistency. He’s got the ability to do it. He’s just got to be consistent with it, and that’s by working hard and growing each day.”
Gold-jacket shopping is way too premature for any rookie but the realization that Canton even comes to the mind of an NFL coach when discussing a freshman at the pro level is a testament to the level of talent Carter possesses.
“It’s impressive how much he loves football,” Desai said. “He’s like a sponge. He’s asking for feedback. He’s getting coached hard. And even from his peers, he’s taking a lot of coaching from his peers, and whoever he can feel like he can get information from, a lot of guys are touching him.”