Mel Kiper Jr. tabs Georgia’s Jalen Carter as No. 1 overall pick

ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has named Georgia star defensive lineman Jalen Carter as the No. 1 overall pick in his latest 2023 mock draft.

“Chicago’s roster needs help from top to bottom, but its defense was particularly dreadful in 2022, ranking last in the league in sacks (20) and points allowed per game (27.2). It has to be D all the way for wherever the Bears make their selection. Carter, an explosive interior pass-rusher and run-stuffer, gets the nod over Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. on my Big Board. He’s the best player in this draft, a Day 1 starter in the middle of this defense.”

The All-American tackle anchored Georgia’s defensive line in back-to-back title seasons in Athens.

Carter battled injuries in the 2022 season and missed two games, but still graded as the top Power Five defender in college football, according to Pro Football Focus.

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Events will have to fall Carter’s way on draft day for him to gain the No. 1 pick honors.

Carter likely needs the Chicago Bears to keep the pick to become UGA’s second straight No. 1 selection following Travon Walker last year.

The Houston Texans hold the No. 2 pick where Kiper predicts Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud to be selected.

Kiper predicts the Arizona Cardinals to select Alabama defensive end Will Anderson Jr. with the No. 3 pick.

The 2023 NFL draft will be held on April 27-29 in Kansas City and will be aired on The NFL Network.

Story originally appeared on UGA Wire