Bears should pass on Jalen Carter in 2023 NFL Draft
Mark Rebilas - USA Today Sports

Bears should pass on Jalen Carter in 2023 NFL Draft

by - Correspondent -

Defensive lineman Jalen Carter was formerly seen as the No. 1 overall prospect in the draft. Now, according to NFL Analyst Daniel Jeremiah, Carter is the No. 5 overall prospect. This change most likely resulted from the off-the-field issues Carter had right around the time of the NFL Combine. But, he is still visiting teams and insisting on only seeing teams with a top-10 pick in the draft, per NFL Analyst Ian Rapoport. On Monday April 3, he visited the Chicago Bears.

As was heavily reported back in the beginning of March, Carter was arrested, charged with two misdemeanors - reckless driving and racing. On March 16, he pled no contest to both charges, resulting in a sentence of 12 months of probation, paying a $1,000 fine, completing 80 hours of community service and completing a state-approved defensive driving course. The “no contest” plea essentially states that he is maintaining his innocence, but is not fighting the charges against him. Per his attorney, Kim T Stephens, there is another benefit for Carter in this sentence, as detailed is a statement obtained by NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero.

“In entering his plea, Mr. Carter chose not to contest the charges lodged against him by the Athens-Clarke County Police Department in order to resolve this matter in the most efficient manner possible,” Stephens said. “With entry of his plea, the State is forever barred from bringing any additional charges against Jalen Carter for conduct alleged to have occurred on January 15, 2023.”

Georgia held their Pro Day on March 15. All 32 teams were present, including the Bears’ head coach Matt Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles. However, he struggled and was nine pounds heavier than he was at the NFL Combine two weeks prior.

It makes sense that Carter visited the Bears since he is a talented prospect. However, this brings up the question of whether the Bears should draft the best player available or best player for their needs at the No. 9 overall pick. If Carter were available at No. 9, should the Bears draft him even though they have greater needs, such as the offensive line?

No. Personally, I believe it is more important to draft for team's needs than for the best player available. If Carter is available at No. 9, he probably is the best player overall that they could draft. But Chicago has addressed the defensive line in free agency far more than they have addressed the offensive line. Further, this is an issue that can also be addressed later in the draft - such as with potential third-round player, KJ Henry out of Clemson. Due to the Bears’ offensive line issues, it is more important to use that first round pick there rather than on defense, essentially when defense can be addressed later.

Another thing with Carter is his off-the-field conduct is cause for concern. Although he did not plead guilty and resolving the legal matter seems to be in his best interest, it still must be a concern for NFL teams because it has been seen how behaviors outside of football can derail a player's career.

Chicago has a reputation to maintain, as well. The Bears have not had a player get arrested while on their team in six years, a much longer period than most NFL teams. While I am not saying that Carter will get arrested again, the allegations against him are still concerning.

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