The King of the NFL Draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., published his latest first-round mock draft Tuesday, featuring two trades by the Chicago Bears.
The first featured a move with the Houston Texans in which the Bears traded down one spot to No. 2 overall. Then, Kiper has the Bears swapping selections with the Indianapolis Colts to move from No. 2 down to No. 4 overall.
Mel Kiper’s mock draft doesn’t offer any hypothetical returns the Chicago Bears would get in these deals, but it’s safe to assume they’d land Houston and Indianapolis’ second-round picks in 2023, probably a third-rounder or two this year, and potentially one first-round pick in 2024. It’d be a great haul to slide down three spots and still land a player who’s arguably the highest-graded non-quarterback in the class: Georgia defensive lineman, Jalen Carter.
Mel Kiper’s mock draft results in ideal scenario for Bears
“Chicago should be exceedingly happy in this scenario, trading down three spots and adding an elite defender and valuable picks,” Kiper wrote. “Carter is a fantastic player, a game-wrecker from the interior with a 310-pound frame. He’s the top-ranked prospect on my board. In Chicago, he’d immediately upgrade a porous defense that ranked last in the league in sacks (20). What’s not to like?”
Carter, 21, will rank high on coach Matt Eberflus’ wish list. He called the three-technique the engine that makes his defense go, and Carter is one of the best at that position to enter the NFL in many years.
Jalen Carter didn’t have a ton of box score production at Georgia, but his disruptive presence along the interior of the defensive line is what makes him so appealing.
Jalen Carter to the Bears gaining momentum
The Washington Commanders’ decision to place the franchise tag on Daron Payne will increase the demand for Jalen Carter around the league. Teams that targeted Payne as the fix for their defensive line may shift their focus to Carter in the first round.
The Bears have the most money to spend in free agency, and there was an assumption that Payne would be one of their prized targets. Any debate between Carter and Will Anderson Jr. as Chicago’s first-round target may be over now that Payne is off the market.
Mel Kiper Jr. has Anderson going to the Arizona Cardinals with the third pick, one spot ahead of the Chicago Bears in this double-trade scenario. At this point, it doesn’t seem like the Bears would pass on Carter, even if Anderson is still on the board.