The NFL Scouting Combine is underway, and with it came some unfortunate news. Defensive Tackle Jalen Carter, one of the two consensus best players in the NFL draft, was charged with reckless driving and racing stemming from an incident in Georgia in January. Carter was racing another car, and the other car crashed, killing two people, while Carter fled the scene. There were no indications that Carter was intoxicated, but the incident definitely shows some character concerns for him. Carter was booked and released after leaving the combine and returned, avoiding media interviews.
It’s worth wondering if this will make Carter’s draft stock drop now. Sure, it’s just two misdemeanors, but considering what happened to Henry Ruggs last year, this won’t be something taken too lightly. One thing it probably does for sure is give more teams the edge to put Will Anderson as their number 1 player on the draft boards, which affects the Bears potential trade down plans. In my mock offseason from last week, I had the Bears trade down to 4, still able to snag Anderson, based off the assumption Arizona would take Carter to better fit their need at DT. Now, my gut tells me Arizona would just pick Anderson, leaving the Bears to either pick Carter, still a fantastic player, but one with character concerns, which the Bears have generally steered clear from in their history, or to pivot to the second tier of top players, maybe to a guy like Tyree Wilson, who is also fantastic but requires more development than Anderson or Carter. This makes a trade down more tough as the Bears aren’t quite guaranteed to land the top blue-chip player in the class if they move down with anyone besides Houston at 2.
This is where rumblings at the combine could make things interesting for Chicago. Anthony Richardson is reportedly rising up draft boards, and could be a top 3 pick. His odds of being the number 1 pick in Vegas have increased significantly lately. If that is the case, the Bears could still trade down to 4 with Indianapolis, then a team trades up with Arizona at 3, and we have Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, and Anthony Richardson all go top 3, allowing the Bears to get a boatload of picks and still get the best player in the draft, Will Anderson. Heck, even Will Levis has hype to go high, making this draft similar to the 2018 and 2021 drafts where 5 QBs went in the first round. It’s simple: more teams getting desperate to move up for QBs drives the price of the 1st pick up due to supply and demand, allowing the Bears to move down, collect assets, and still acquire a blue-chip prospect inside the top 5 if they don’t want to move outside the top 10, where 3 first round picks and change is the starting point of negotiations.
The Carter news means the Bears will have to juggle trading down more than originally expected. But the QB market heating up could easily make up for the unfortunate news, and still allow the Bears to kill the draft and set up their future beautifully.
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