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“Baby Rhino”: Just How Good Can Jalen Carter Be?

Jalen Carter: Through the first month, Eagles fans have gotten a plenty good look at Jalen Carter and the question is just how good can he be?
Eagles Rookie Jalen Carter

Jalen Carter Has Potential to Be One of the Best


Four weeks into the 2023 NFL regular season, Jalen Carter has been a massive point of pride for Philadelphia Eagles fans. The team, in general, has managed to stay undefeated, but has had some potentially concerning issues in games many were confident about going in.  The offense passing game and Hurts have struggled at times, and the secondary has been a bottom 10 team in passing yards allowed this season. However, the Eagles’ defensive line has been arguably even better than advertised and has honestly carried the struggling units of the team at times. Carter is the number one player on that stacked line and his presence has taken the unit to a level even higher than where they already were. He has been beyond impressive, but how special is Jalen Carter now and how impactful can he be in the future?


Statistical Performance Through First Four Weeks

On a surface level, Carter’s stats may not reflect the impact he has had on the team. Carter has just 1.5 sacks, with eight total tackles, two tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles. However, according to PFF, Carter was the highest-graded interior defender in the league as a rookie. He has 20 pressures in just 104 pass-rushing snaps which is the top pressure rate in the league for defensive tackles. Not just his pass-rushing, but his run-defending has been excellent as well. He has enough power to take on and move offensive linemen one-on-one but has also shown an ability to squirm through the tiny gaps on zone run plays. He often makes the running back change their course, leading them right into the lap of other Eagles defenders. While he may not always get the tackle or sack, his presence is apparent for the other team throughout games.


What Makes Jalen Carter so Great?

It seems simple why Carter is so great because it is. Carter didn’t get the nickname, “Baby Rhino” for nothing. He has an unbelievable blend of strengths, explosiveness, and quickness, as well as a relentless motor. Carter’s first step and quickness are exemplary in how he can shoot the gaps in the run game and make havoc in the backfield. He is slightly undersized for a defensive tackle, and his overall quickness more than makes up for it by being able to shake offensive linemen off balance and close out with his pass-rush move. But the most surprising thing about Carter’s skillset is an uncanny amount of power and strength. Against the Washington Commanders, one rep showcases his ability to just throw defenders out of his way to the quarterback instantly.


Besides the physical gifts, Carter’s motor and relentlessness on the field are a big part of why he has been dominating. There are tons of physical specimens in the NFL, especially along the defensive line. However, the effort that Carter puts forth every play matches what some of the top-tier pass-rushers in the league do like T.J. Watt and Micah Parsons. It’s imperative for a defensive lineman of his caliber as teams are going to start throwing more and more double teams and offensive caution his way. Carter’s job will only get harder and harder and in games where offenses decide to completely take him out of the game, his effort will be the driving force of whether he can make plays. Carter’s forced fumble against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers showcases how he can go above and beyond his normal duties as a defensive tackle.


Just How Great Can Jalen Carter Be?

Predicting the legacy of a rookie and how great he will be is an unfair and ambitious take. However, it’s clear that Carter at the minimum has the potential to be a Hall of Fame-type player. There have been many people claiming Carter to be the “New-Age Warren Sapp”,  because of the similarities of their frame and explosiveness. They look similar on the field, but one could even argue that Carter may have more pure power than a player even as dominant as Sapp.

Carter has been one of the best interior defensive linemen in his rookie year of the league in which there are a lot of superstars at the position. It will be hard to put a ceiling on Carter’s career and potential, but it’s even harder to not think of what he can contribute for the Eagles for the foreseeable future. With good fortune, Carter could not only be an Eagles legend but at the very top of NFL legends as well.


Main Photo: [Bill Streicher] – USA Today



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