Jalen Carter having his draft stock masterfully rebuilt by Drew Rosenhaus

Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) holds LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) in the air in celebration after sacking Daniels during the first half of the SEC Championship NCAA college football game between LSU and Georgia in Atlanta, on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022.News Joshua L Jones
Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) holds LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) in the air in celebration after sacking Daniels during the first half of the SEC Championship NCAA college football game between LSU and Georgia in Atlanta, on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022.News Joshua L Jones /

For Jalen Carter, the 2023 football season and postseason couldn’t have been any different. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is working to even out the disparity.

Just a few short months ago, Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter was being talked about as the second consecutive No. 1 overall pick coming out of Athens. Then, it all started to fall apart.

An offseason full of missteps and miscalculations by the former Bulldog led to his sure-fire top-ten draft pick status being in jeopardy, and NFL teams were suddenly backing off Carter as a potential pick due to what was framed as “character issues”.

This is a case when an agent really earns his commission, and super-agent Drew Rosenhaus is going beyond damage control with Carter, rebuilding his image and the faith that NFL teams should have in his client.

What happened to Jalen Carter to change the perception of him as a top draft pick?

Right through time expiring on Georgia’s 65-7 romp of TCU in the national championship game, Jalen Carter was viewed as a talented, hard-working, fun-loving player and teammate. His name was spoken with glowing words by analysts and fans alike.

Little by little that image was chipped away by some poor choices (the kind commonly made by men his age), and then finally as part of the tragedy that took the lives of teammate Devin Willock and UGA recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy.

While Carter wasn’t at fault or blamed for the deaths in the fatal car crash that was a result of street racing, There were questions about whether or not Carter left the scene, whether he lied to the police, and if this was a pattern of behavior based on past incidents.

Jalen Carter’s name was continually tied to the events until he was finally charged with reckless driving and racing just as he was making the rounds at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine.

It was then reported that Carter showed up nine pounds heavy to Georgia’s Pro Day and was unable to finish his position drills. This was more fuel for those who wanted to push the narrative that Carter was not NFL-ready, and that taking him early (or at all) in the first round would be a mistake.

Jalen Carter’s agent still believes in his client, and here’s why.

When a player hires an agent, it’s for reasons beyond just contract negotiations. There are considerations of PR, endorsements, and many other things that a good agent is held responsible for. One of the best in the business is veteran agent, Drew Rosenhaus, who represents Jalen Carter.

In a recent interview on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Rosenhause spoke to correspondent Jon Frankel about Carter and the task of not just rebuilding, but reshaping the image NFL teams have of his client.

"“Jalen wasn’t drinking or wasn’t under the influence. He did not leave the scene. He was accountable. He was not charged with the deaths. Let’s be clear, no one is blaming him.”"

But even without blame, the questions of Carter’s character need to be addressed, and without using the tactic of pleading with teams to trust him and his client, Rosenhaus used the tools at his disposal and let technology do the work for him.

Rosenhaus contacted ESPN insider Adam Schefter to let him know that Carter would not be meeting with any teams who were scheduled to pick outside the top ten in the 2023 NFL Draft. That sent a clear message to everyone — my client is a top-ten pick, and you shouldn’t get your hopes up if you think he’ll fall into your lap later in the round.

Did it work?

It took mere minutes for the news to spread like wildfire on social media and throughout the league. Rosenhaus was the maestro, and he was conducting the press orchestra in unmatched style.

But the belief that Jalen Carter is a blue chip player goes far beyond the ploys and trickery used to create a massive swirl in public perception. Rosenhaus deeply believes that Carter is not only a great player but is still the great person everyone saw on the field for three seasons at Georgia.

“This is a good guy. Jalen is a good kid. We’ll stay in touch on this one, I know he’ll be one of the more compelling stories of the draft,” Rosenhaus told Schefter as their call came to a close.

To further show the faith he has in his client, Rosenhaus allowed the HBO crew to come with him on a visit to Carter’s family, almost unheard of in today’s fishbowl social media world.

When asked if he thought NFL teams would really care about the January incident involving the car crash, Carter didn’t hesitate to show he understood the gravity of his actions and how it would be viewed.

"“You know, NFL teams look deep into your life. It could have been something I did back in elementary [school], I’m pretty sure they’d know. So, this coming out at the time it did come out, I’m pretty sure it’s going to affect it a little bit.”"

Is Jalen Carter still a top-ten pick in the NFL Draft?

In the show, Drew Rosenhaus made it very clear he still firmly believes that Carter will go very early in the first round, even saying that if he’s not off the board after the number five pick, he’ll be on the phone with teams making sure they are taking a hard look at his client.

The idea that Carter could go No. 1 overall is a distant memory, but is he still one of the ten best players in the draft? To most, the answer is probably an emphatic yes, but to NFL teams who are banking their future on a player like Carter, that enthusiasm must be muted.

Carter has the talent and the football IQ to be an impactful rookie and eventually an All-Pro caliber player in the NFL. Both he and his agent believe that the unfortunate choices that were made and their consequences were a learning opportunity.

Coming in heavy and unable to finish drills at Georgia’s Pro Day should probably be a minor concern. The fact is that Carter is an empathetic young man who was dealing with mental and emotional trauma. It was too soon after the accident and everything that followed to judge his physical and mental fitness.

Chances are, whoever picks Carter will be getting an already-talented player with a huge chip on his shoulder, wanting to prove anyone who doubted his abilities — or his character — one hundred percent wrong.

The entire Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel episode featuring Drew Rosenhause premiered on April 18 and can be seen now on HBO Max.

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