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Chicago Bears’ Top Draft Prospects Start to Distinguish Themselves at NFL Combine

Top defensive line prospect Jalen Carter is facing an additional challenge with the Bears and other teams aside from misdemeanor charges
Bears Draft

The Chicago Bears certainly have their work cut out for them in April’s NFL Draft.

They have a ton of salary cap space, own the first-overall pick, and have plenty of roster shortfalls that need to be addressed.

That job got that much more complicated on Wednesday with news that University of Georgia defensive line prospect Jalen Carter had a warrant out for his arrest on “reckless driving and racing” in connection to an incident that resulted in the loss of two lives, one of whom was Carter’s teammate.

Jalen Carter Facing Big Challenge With Chicago Bears, Other Teams

Carter left the NFL Combine in Indianapolis to turn himself in and, after being booked for a pair of misdemeanors and posting a $4000 bond, was released. This is expected to be the full extent of Carter’s legal involvement with the case, per ESPN’s Mark Schlabach.

The 6-foot-3, 310-pound Carter said he expects full exoneration in a social media post.

Those charges are arguably not even Carter’s biggest concern ahead of putting his wares on display at the Combine.

“[Carolina Panthers general manager] Scott Fitterer: Met with Jalen Carter in Indy this week, team didn’t know about the situation with the fatal crash in Ga.,” tweeted Joe Person of The Athletic.

Carter’s reluctance to be forthright is what could ultimately cost him.

Of course, a drop in the draft might hurt Carter in the pockets initially. But he would also land with a better team, in theory. That would put him in a better position to develop and win right away.

Will Anderson’s Opportunity to Separate from the Pack

Will Anderson, the talented EDGE rusher from the University of Alabama, could be the biggest benefactor of Carter’s potential misstep. He is already in contention for the top spot outright. And the Bears (or any other prospective team) could be wary of spending a premium pick on a prospect who was less than upfront.

Anderson weighed in at 6-foot-3 and 253 pounds. He was asked how he would fit into the Bears 4-3 after playing in a 3-4 in college.

“I feel like football is all about embracing the change,” Anderson told CHGO‘s Nicholas Moreano. “So, no matter what type of defense I’m in, I’m going to adapt to it. And I’m going to be able to embrace the change and embrace the challenges that’s there and learn the lessons that come with it. And that’s what I’m excited about. Just whatever defense I get in, learning how to operate throughout it and having fun doing it.”

There is some trepidation in NFL circles about Anderson’s ability which could be concerning.

That’s not to say that there are no concerning questions about Carter. There certainly are, including injuries this past season. But picking first overall does not happen every year (hopefully, for Bears fans’ sake). Taking a player with a questionable ceiling could be disastrous.

The Chicago Bears Have to Get Draft Right

Both players fit the bill of what the Bears figure to be looking for in a defensive lineman. They might find themselves unable to trade the pick. But there is a strong case they will be happy with whomever they take. But it also cannot be ignored the immense pressure they are under to knock this pick out of the park.

Interestingly, they will shape their draft strategy in large part during free agency, set to begin in less than two weeks.

This roster should look vastly different on the other side of that. And that could still be the biggest determining factor of what direction Bears general manager Ryan Poles decides to go in.


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