ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Las Vegas Raiders are hosting defensive tackle Jalen Carter for a visit. Normally, this bit of news wouldn’t merit much attention, but the Raiders have a recent history of employing players who have been involved in tragic vehicle incidents.
That history, Carter’s talent, and the Raiders’ need profile raises important questions about whether Las Vegas can navigate this situation and invest themselves in this player.
Jalen Carter Is Likely To Go in the Top 10
The Raiders are in position to draft Jalen Carter. They hold the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft, and Carter has regularly been mocked inside the top 10, with users of the Pro Football Network Mock Draft Simulator mocking him right in range for Las Vegas.
Carter’s average draft position from users is 7.8, and he has the second-lowest standard deviation when mocked at just 2.38. His highest ADP is with Seattle (6.0), and his lowest is with the Eagles (9.9).
Carter’s status as a top-10 talent matches his position in the Industry Consensus Big Board and in industry mock drafts. The industry board places him third overall in the most recent update, while mock draft aggregator Grinding the Mocks places him, on average, at pick 5.8.
Generally considered one of the most talented — if not the most talented — non-quarterback in the draft, off-field and locker-room questions have floated around Carter since December, when ESPN’s Todd McShay indicated that teams were worried about Carter’s character.
In January, Carter was involved in an incident where a car he was driving raced two other cars, one of which carried Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock and recruiting coordinator Chandler LeCroy, both of whom passed away in the subsequent crash. Carter’s involvement was not made public knowledge until March, when police charged him with reckless driving and racing.
Carter was at the NFL Combine, but he immediately returned to Georgia to post bond.
The Las Vegas Raiders Have a History To Consider
The Raiders, meanwhile, have their own history to consider. In November 2021, first-round pick Henry Ruggs III is alleged to have caused a fatal crash while drunk and driving at 156 miles per hour.
That same month, first-round selection Damon Arnette was accused of injuring a woman in an incident a year prior, making up for a missed turn on the way to practice and driving his car at 65 miles per hour into another vehicle. Arnette was later pulled over twice on the same night for driving with a suspended license.
There have been other incidents, including when first-rounder Josh Jacobs was charged with “failure to exercise due care” for a single-car accident. The incident was initially reported as a DUI, which exacerbated the perception that the Raiders have had a history with their players getting involved in vehicular accidents.
With that in mind, it seems odd that Vegas would continue that tragic legacy by investing time into investigating Carter – especially after reports appeared that he would not be in consideration for the Raiders.
But those reports were mischaracterized. Reporters never indicated that Carter was off the board for Las Vegas, just that he was not an option specifically with the seventh overall pick.
Regardless, head coach Josh McDaniels pushed back against those reports and indicated that they would be hosting Carter — meaning that the Schefter report merely confirms that the visit happened after multiple reports indicated that Carter was going to visit the team.
The Raiders Might Approach the Carter Situation With Nuance
If anything, this is an indication that the Raiders don’t paint every similar-looking incident with the same brush.
NFL teams and the public at large could do with this kind of nuance. Jeffery Simmons’ high-school history, which involved violence against a woman, is not the same as Tyreek Hill’s college history of violence against a woman.
Simmons was defending his sister and immediately enrolled in voluntary anger management courses, while Hill pleaded guilty to domestic violence after being accused of strangling his pregnant girlfriend, only enrolling in anger management after a court order.
That Simmons, for some time, was regarded in the same light as Hill by the media did him a disservice. In the same way, it could be argued that Carter’s incident is not reminiscent of the Ruggs’ incident. Carter’s reckless driving did not itself result in any deaths; it was associated with the death of a teammate and a recruiting coordinator, who were in one of the three cars that were involved in a race.
But Carter did not cause the accident and was never determined to have been under the influence. Though initial reports suggested he fled the scene, he was compliant with officers throughout the process. Carter turned himself in immediately after charges were released and very quickly arranged a plea deal with a guilty verdict for reckless driving and racing.
Ruggs has consistently had his court hearing date pushed back as his lawyers have raised various objections, including objections over the admissibility of blood-alcohol content as evidence.
Though Carter has been cited several times in the past for speeding, he’s never been cited for driving under the influence. None of this is to say that Carter deserves complete absolution and that Ruggs deserves complete scorn. It’s simply the case that each incident is different, and those differences could change the ethical questions at hand.
The Raiders are willing to entertain that fact.
Their willingness to host Carter is not an indication that they’re comfortable with the incident. It could mean they’re looking for signs of remorse, changes in behavior, and an understanding of Carter’s state of mind before investing time and money into a draft selection.
Vegas will draw heat for this, given their history, even if they don’t pick him, but it’s at least worth investigating.
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