It doesn’t feel that long ago that the Chicago Bears were debating between Georgia’s Jalen Carter and Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. with the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Now in possession of the No. 9 pick after the blockbuster trade with the Carolina Panthers, the Bears could still end up with one of those two premium defenders.
According to the latest 2023 mock draft from NFL Network’s Charles Davis, the Bears land Carter in Round 1.
“The top-rated player in the draft on many boards prior to the NFL combine (off-field issues/poor pro-day workout), Carter’s “slide” stops here,” Davis wrote, “with the team that may have selected him at No. 1 overall if it had not traded the pick.”
I know there are concerns about Jalen Carter’s off-field issues. But with his legal matter behind him and several seasons of good tape for evaluators to review, imagining a scenario in which he’ll drop out of the top 10 picks is difficult.
Jalen Carter to the Bears would be value meeting need
Assuming the Chicago Bears keep the ninth pick and don’t trade back again, Carter has to be at or near the top of their wish list.
Jalen Carter finished the 2022 season with 32 tackles and three sacks, numbers that don’t jump off the stat sheet as elite. But the disruption he caused was.
Virtually every respected NFL draft analyst has Carter ranked as the best non-quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft. If the Bears can land that level of talent at No. 9, it’ll make their decision to trade the first pick a stroke of genius.
Of course, this is all contingent on Jalen Carter having the maturity and work ethic required to be a great NFL player. It’s unfair for anyone like me to question whether he has either or both of those things. It’s unfair for any draft analyst who doesn’t know him or the people close to him to question that.
So, with what we know he can do on the field, combined with one of the Chicago Bears’ biggest roster weaknesses, Carter would be unreal value solving the Bears’ biggest need in this year’s draft.