Jalen Carter vs. Will Anderson stats: Will Georgia or Alabama star be first defensive player picked of 2023 NFL Draft?

Quick Bit: Carter and Anderson represent the consensus top defensive players of the 2023 NFL Draft. Who will be off the bird first come April?

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Three years ago, only one spot separated Will Anderson Jr. and Jalen Carter in the 2020 recruiting class. They were considered the ninth- and 10th-best defenders, and the 17th and 18 overall recruits, per 247Sports’ Composite rankings.

Three years later, they are once again considered neck and neck, this time in the 2023 NFL Draft. There is no mistaking this time, however: They are the top two defenders in their draft class.

Anderson and Carter both are thought of as can’t-miss prospects on defense, with quarterbacks Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud being the only players rated above the two defenders, per most mock drafts. They are unanimously considered top-five picks, with most outlets selecting one of them to go No. 2 overall in the 2023 draft.

The only question now is whether Anderson or Carter will be the first defender off the board.

MORE: Latest Sporting News 2023 NFL mock draft

Anderson plays a position of paramount importance in the modern NFL, as his pass-rush acumen would make him a terror for opposing quarterbacks. His 2021 season — 101 tackles, 34 1/2 tackles for loss and 17 1/2 sacks — is considered one of the best defensive campaigns in recent memory.

Carter isn’t near the pass-rusher Anderson is, but is still considered a lynchpin lineman who can become an anchor in the middle of any defensive line. His ability to engage linemen, coupled with his tremendous strength, would help him improve any defensive line (just ask LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels).

It remains to be seen which player will go first, which includes such factors as the NFL combine, team interviews and which franchise will be in position to draft a defensive player first.

With that, The Sporting News looks at both players’ respective career stats, as well as where they are projected to go via industry mock drafts:

Will Anderson Jr. stats

Tackles
TFL
Sacks
INT
PD
FF
FR
2020
52
10.5
7
0
0
1
0
2021
101
34.5
17.5
0
3
0
0
2022
51
17
10
1
2
0
0
Career
205
62
34.5
1
5
1
0

Jalen Carter stats

Getty Images

Tackles
TFL
Sacks
INT
PD
FF
FR
2020
14
3
0
0
0
0
0
2021
37
8.5
3
0
1
0
0
2022
30
7
3
0
3
2
0
Career
81
18.5
6
0
4
2
0

MORE: Todd McShay’s ‘character issues’ analysis of Georgia’s Jalen Carter draws criticism, confusion

2023 NFL mock drafts

Mock drafts reflect draft order prior to Week 18 of 2022 NFL season; Bears now own No. 1 overall pick over Texans.

The Sporting News

Will Anderson Jr.: No. 2 overall to Bears
Jalen Carter: No. 3 overall to Seahawks

NBC Sports

Jalen Carter: No. 2 overall to Bears
Will Anderson Jr.: No. 4 overall to Cardinals

The Athletic

Jalen Carter: No. 2 overall to Bears
Will Anderson Jr.: No. 3 overall to Seahawks

MORE: Why Bryce Young, Will Anderson, other top Alabama NFL Draft prospects played in 2022 Sugar Bowl

CBS Sports

Ryan Wilson

Jalen Carter: No. 2 overall to Bears
Will Anderson Jr.: No. 3 overall to Seahawks

Chris Trapasso

Will Anderson Jr.: No. 2 overall to Bears
Jalen Carter: No. 3 overall to Seahawks

Josh Edwards

Jalen Carter: No. 2 overall to Bears
Will Anderson Jr.: No. 4 overall to Cardinals

Walter Football

Will Anderson Jr.: No. 2 overall to Bears
Jalen Carter: No. 3 overall to Seahawks

Originally found on Sporting News Read More

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