In the 2023 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears will be watching two standalone prospects that are the clear best two prospects in the draft, in whichever way you cut it. Both have had big college production, both have elite ceilings, and both have anything you want in a prospect when taking a player within the top five picks of the draft.
Chicago Bears debate: Jalen Carter or Will Anderson?
The two best prospects in the draft in my opinion and most others’ opinions are Jalen Carter and Will Anderson. In almost any other draft class both Anderson and Carter would be the best defensive player in the class. Anderson has been a player on NFL draft radars since he broke onto the scene in 2020 when he won a National Championship in 2020 with Alabama where he notched 7 sacks as a true freshman. Carter however took a year longer to gain the national spotlight when he proved he was one of if not the best players on that 2021 Georgia defense that also won a National Championship.
The Bears have a tough decision to make this offseason when they either pick at number 1 and have to choose either Carter or Anderson or when they trade down and if they still have to make that decision. Either way, both players would be great picks, and being in a spot to choose one of them is a great place to be in.
The Case for Jalen Carter:
Jalen Carter was set for a monster season with all the spotlight on him after Georgia’s defense forfeited a handful of standout players to the NFL, such as Jordan Davis on the defensive line. However, we only saw a glimpse of Carter at full force in 2022 as he was hobbled by an ankle injury, and an MCL injury all season. Carter got banged up in the opener vs Oregon and vs Missouri after a chop block and despite that had some more than impressive moments.
Carter has become more diverse of a defender coming into his junior year and really raised his pass-rushing ability by slimming down a bit which has been a major reason why there has been so much hype around him. Carter as a pass rusher is about as powerful as you will see at the college level and can bully guards back into the quarterback with ease off a power rush. Carter maintains a great pad level and stays low even though he is gifted enough to get away with bad pad level.
In addition to freakish strength, Carter also has a freakish bend and can get very skinny on the inside which has given him the ability to be a great run and pass defender throughout his college career. Carter also has the top-end speed for an interior lineman and has made some highlight reel plays chasing down running backs down field, specifically vs Kentucky in 2021.
However, throughout the playoffs, especially vs OSU, Carter’s flaws came to light in a fashion we have never seen before. Going into the game we knew Carter’s pass rush engine runs hot and cold and he can become non-existent sometimes in the pass rush game because of whatever reason. Conditioning also looked to be an issue vs OSU as he looked gassed at some points in the game and his impact in that game was as low as we have seen it this year. However, this should be taken with a grain of salt as he was banged up and his status before the game was in doubt because he was nursing some injuries, which could have a hand in these issues.