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INDIANAPOLIS — The Jalen Carter chatter started Monday night.
“There’s some shit there.”
“That’s a difficult one.”
“Incredibly talented, but not going to be easy.”
Then the bombshell dropped Wednesday morning. There was an arrest warrant out for Carter on charges of reckless driving and racing in the fatal accident that killed a teammate and UGA staff member on Jan. 15. Carter turned himself into Athens Georgia police late last night.
The fallout will be interesting to say the least. Carter’s tape makes him worthy of being the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, even as a defensive tackle. But his exact role in a car crash that left two people dead could end up costing him millions of dollars.
Prior to Wednesday morning, my conclusion on Carter was that he’s a player who comes with baggage, but his talent and productivity are enough for an NFL team to make it work. Ndamukong Suh was one comp I heard.
The latest news changes that equation. While there’s still plenty to be learned, my gut feeling is that drafting Carter high in the first round would be way too risky. Perhaps drafting him later in the first round after trading back could still be on the table. On the other hand, no one could blame any NFL team for simply crossing Jalen Carter off their draft board right now.
What a turn of events this has been for such an extremely talented player.
What about Will Anderson?
The Bears’ evaluation of Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. will be fascinating. Unlike Carter, Anderson is said to be a perfect teammate with zero red flags. He’s a very safe pick. The question is, can he still dominate as a 4-3 defensive end when he’s built more like a 3-4 outside linebacker?
“I feel like football is all about embracing change,” Anderson said Wednesday. “So no matter what type of defense I get in, I’m going to adapt to it and be able to embrace the change and embrace the challenge and learn the lessons that come with it.”
It seems notable that Bears head coach Matt Eberflus said Tuesday he wants “big, long and fast” defensive lineman. Anderson’s size isn’t necessarily one of his strengths. On the other hand, Alabama actually lined him up inside quite a bit and Anderson showed he can be versatile and dominate from multiple spots along the line. That’s a strong indication that he might be able to adapt to being a 4-3 defensive end without much problem.
Other things I’m hearing from the NFL Combine…
- Despite all the chatter on your television about the Bears possibly trading Justin Fields, I haven’t found a single person at the NFL Combine who actually thinks that will happen.
- Don’t be surprised if a Bears trade back involves receiving a veteran player in return. Or if draft capital received in the trade is quickly flipped for a veteran player.
- The Packers seem to be fed up with dealing with Aaron Rodgers’ antics and I’m convinced their preference is to move in a different direction. The problem? Rodgers still holds all the cards. So if Rodgers wants to play in Green Bay in 2023, he’ll still play in Green Bay.
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