Why didn't the Chicago Bears just draft Jalen Carter with the No. 9 overall pick?
The Chicago Bears passed up on Georgia star defensive tackle Jalen Carter. The organization decided to swap picks with the Philadelphia Eagles and select right tackle Darnell Wright out of Tennessee.
Wright is a solid pick who is definitely going to shore up the offensive line with his pro-ready skillset, but the Bears should've stood their ground and selected Carter at No. 9 instead of swapping picks.
One of the biggest rules of the NFL Draft is that you select the best player available, regardless of position. And Carter was the best player available when the Bears were ready to pick at No. 9.
Yes, Carter's off-field issues have been highly publicized by the media. He was facing misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing for his alleged role in a crash that led to the death of teammate Devin Willock and a recruiting staffer at Georgia, per The Associated Press. Carter struck a plea deal and will not go to jail, according to The Athletic.
Other concerns surrounding Carter include weight issues and having trouble completing position drills on his pro day, per ESPN.
Carter was ESPN analyst Mel Kiper's No. 1 prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft despite the misdemeanor chargers and other concerns.
Taking Carter with the ninth overall pick would've been a gamble, but it could've paid off. The Bears have a lot of holes to fill on their roster, especially at defensive line. Bringing in a player of Carter's caliber would give the Bears a major chess piece to work with in the trenches.
Seasoned veterans on the Bears' defense like safety Eddie Jackson and linebacker T.J. Edwards could've mentored Carter and kept him on the right track. Jackson is a two-time Pro Bowler and Edwards racked up 159 tackles as the starting linebacker of the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles last season.
Carter, a unanimous All-American last season, was the anchor of a hard-hitting defense that led the Georgia Bulldogs to back-to-back national championships (2021, 2022). Carter has a knack for stuffing the run and has elite speed off the snap. His pro comparison is Tennessee Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons, a two-time Pro Bowler, per CBS Sports.
Passing up on a high-risk, high-reward prospect like Carter might come back to bite the Bears. With 10 picks in the 2023 draft, there's still room for the Bears to add a gamechanger to their defensive line.