Bears Draft Target: Jalen Carter
Brett Davis - USA Today Sports

Bears Draft Target: Jalen Carter

by - Senior Writer -

For the first time in what seems like forever, the Chicago Bears hold the No. 1 overall pick in this year's upcoming NFL draft. With that comes a ton of pressure, as the Bears can either keep that pick or package that pick with another team to trade back and acquire more picks.

While we have yet to learn what the Bears are thinking or what their plans will be come draft night, one thing is sure when it comes to this team, and they will get one heck of a player. Although the draft is two-plus months away, it is nice to see some of the NFL mock drafts starting to come out. That is one of the things that help NFL fans get through the offseason.

Regarding the Bears and their mock drafts, there are two names associated with the Bears in the first round of the NFL draft, and both are on the defensive side of the ball. One of the names related to Chicago is in a trade in which the Bears trade with the Colts and Texans and move back to the No. 4 pick.

The second name that most mock drafts have Chicago taking keeps them at the No. 1 pick, which is the player we will focus on today. For a team in desperate need of defensive help, look for the Bears to go that route, as Jalen Carter appears to be the concenceous No. 1 selection if that is where the Bears ultimately go.

Carter is regarded as the best defensive player in this draft and one of the top overall prospects. The former 5-star recruit not only joined the Bulldogs following a stellar prep career, but was instantly handed the starting job as a freshman. That is no easy feat, but having that happen at a program like Georgia is nearly unheard of.

In 2020 as a freshman, Carter saw action in 10 games and played a total of 287 snaps for the Bulldogs. He recorded 11 tackles, three assists while adding eight stops. As a pass rusher, he added 13 total pressures, which included nine QB hurries, two QB hits, and two sacks on the season. Those are not elite numbers, but when you consider he was a freshman that season, they are very good.

It was during his sophomore campaign that Carter not only broke out, but put himself on the map of the players in his entire class. As a sophomore for the Bulldogs in 2021, Carter played in all 15 games and took part in 396 snaps for the Bulldogs.

He recorded 25 tackles, seven assists while adding 21 stops. As a pass rusher, he chalked up 34 total pressures, 24 QB hurries, six QB hits, and an impressive four sacks during the year. It was even more impressive, considering he achieved this while playing most of the time at DT. That goes to show you how freakishly athletic he is.

Looking to build on his strong sophomore campaign, Carter returned to the Bulldogs this season and was looking for a strong Junior year to boost his draft stock. In 2022 as a junior, Carter played in 10 games (missed five games with an MCL injury) and contributed on 308 snaps. He recorded 18 tackles and seven assists while making 20 stops. As a pass rusher, he produced 25 total pressures, which included 17 QB hurries, 5 QB hits, and three sacks on the year. Had he played an entire season, Carter would have set career marks across the board.

Despite being 6-3 and 300 pounds, Carter has elite quickness for a defensive tackle, making him a matchup nightmare to guard. That quickness and the ability to change directions allows him to play the run and rush the passer, making him a duel threat DT. He has also shown the ability to play on the interior line and off the edge, so the Bears could ultimately move him around should they draft him.

When it comes to his weaknesses, there are not many, but he doesn't always play with a consistent pad level. Once that happens, he tends to struggle to get off of blocks, and you can't have that in the NFL. Carter is also coming off an MCL injury, so teams are weary if he will be 100% once training camp starts. Apart from that, there are other minor flaws to his game that any team will be looking to iron out.

Player Comparison: Warren Sapp

Any time you hear the name Warren Sapp associated with the NFL, you immediately think hall of famer. No one is saying Carter will be a hall of famer, but to be compared to a guy like Sapp is a massive compliment.

Carter is an elite prospect who has been great since his freshman season. He's an elite athlete, and his technique is almost equally impressive. Carter will start as a rookie and could quickly become a perennial pro bowler. He's the top defensive lineman in the draft and worthy of the top overall pick, although it's unlikely he's going number one.

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