3 Reasons Jalen Carter Will Win Defensive Rookie of the Year

Jalen Carter is the obvious pick to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. (Perry Knotts/Getty Images)
Jalen Carter is the obvious pick to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. (Perry Knotts/Getty Images) /
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Jalen Carter was absolutely stellar in his debut. Some Eagles got off to a slow start, but Carter faced no such issues.

In fact, he was arguably the best player on the roster — rookie or veteran.

And when you perform like one of the best players on one of the NFL’s best teams, suddenly you start to get into the conversation around season-long awards, no matter how early in the season it is.

And while there’s still plenty of time for things to change, I honestly don’t think it’s too early to start talking about Carter as the obvious Defensive Rookie of the Year pick.

His incredible play in Week 1 is only one part of the equation, too. There are three big factors working in his favor.

Jalen Carter Defensive Rookie of the Year

1. The Debut

Having been in the conversation as the No. 1 prospect in the entire 2023 NFL Draft, there was never a question about Jalen Carter’s talent or potential. He had the tools, he had the skill, he had the college production. It was just a question of how quickly he could put that together at the NFL level.

It turns out he could do it immediately. His debut wasn’t just a good game for a rookie: it was an elite game for any defender.

Pro Football Focus credited Carter with 8 pressures — tied for the most for any NFL defender in Week 1. And it wasn’t just a handful of splashy plays that made Carter look great, either. He was amazing on just about every snap and finished the game with a  92.1 overall grade.

PFF isn’t the end-all-be-all of player analysis, of course, but here’s some context on how good you have to be to get a grade of 92 or higher.

Last year’s Defensive Player (not Rookie) of the Year only topped 92 in one game. The 2021 Defensive Player of the Year did it in only one game.

As for Defensive Rookie of the Year winners? Neither Sauce Gardner in 2022 nor Micah Parsons in 2022 had a single game with a grade of 92.

Jalen Carter’s opening-week performance is the kind of showing that puts him in the conversation of the best defender in the NFL period, not needing to add the “rookie” caveat.

Obviously it’s too early to expect him to actually contend for DPoY, but the fact that we’re even having the conversation points to just how absurdly good he is already.