Jalen Carter

Will the Chicago Bears end up with Jalen Carter in the 2023 NFL Draft?

Before the Chicago Bears traded the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the leader in the clubhouse to be GM Ryan Poles’ selection was Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter. Considered by some draft analysts to be the best non-quarterback in the class, Carter was a no-brainer fit at the 3-tech in coach Matt Eberflus’ defense.

Then came the Bears’ trade with the Carolina Panthers, which sent Chicago wide receiver DJ Moore, the No. 9 and No. 61 picks in the 2023 draft, a 2024 first-round pick, and a 2025 second-rounder.

With the Chicago Bears sliding back eight spots in the first round, there’s no way they could land Jalen Carter, right?

Not so fast.

According to the latest 2023 mock draft from Pro Football Focus, the Bears land Carter at No. 9 because of his horrendous pre-draft process.

“Who knows where Jalen Carter will be picked at this point?” PFF’s Trevor Sikkema wrote. “His off-the-field situation is clouding his entire draft projection. He’s one of the most talented players in this class, but there’s a chance he could be picked at the back end of the top 10 or even outside it.”

Jalen Carter’s pre-draft process has been a nightmare

Carter was booked on misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing during the NFL Combine and entered into a deal with Athens-Clarke County solicitors where he pled no contest. He’ll serve 12 months probation and 80 hours of community service.

Then came his pro day, where he was nine pounds heavier — with bad weight — than at the Scouting Combine. He was out of shape and couldn’t finish the workout.

This has led to Jalen Carter’s 2023 draft stock being the most unstable in the class. He could still be a top-five pick. He could also still be on the board at the start of the second round.

Poles confirmed this week that the Chicago Bears will visit with Carter in the weeks leading up to the draft. They’ll use that visit to dive deeper into his character, so they’ll have more confidence in whatever decision they make if he is on the board when they’re on the clock in the first round.

The Bears still need an upgrade at 3-tech. They didn’t add one in free agency, and Justin Jones, while a fine player, isn’t capable of being the engine that makes Eberflus’ defense go.

Carter is.

If Jalen Carter’s background checks out, and he’s available for the Chicago Bears to select in the 2023 NFL Draft, he’d cap off what’s already been an incredible offseason for Ryan Poles.

Related News

Bijan Robinson

Bijan Robinson to the Bears? This NFL.com mock draft thinks it’s possible

Chicago Bears free agency

Charles Davis Mock Draft: NFL Network analyst sends Bears answer at 3-tech

Tyree Wilson

2023 NFL Draft: Is Tyree Wilson still an option for Bears at No. 9?

Chicago Bears NFL draft

Bears GM Ryan Poles says he’s open to trading back again in 2023 NFL draft