“He’s one of those players that you covet in terms of being one of the better defensive tackles in this draft,” said Bears assistant general manager Ian Cunningham during a press conference on April 25, per Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic.
Further, per Mark Grote of 670 The Score, Cunningham continued to say, “I think Jalen is a really good player. There’s no denying that.”
Bears’ Ian Cunningham: Jalen Carter ‘One of Those Players You Covet’
Carter is viewed in some corners as the most talented player in this draft class. But he comes with red flags both on and off the football field. Were it not for that he could conceivably be in contention for the No. 1 overall pick. But, because those questions exist, he could present a big conundrum for the Bears. Cunningham even conceded that Carter fits “some” of Bears head coach Matt Eberflus’ vaunted H.I.T.S. principles, per Adam Hoge of CHGO Bears.
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) April 25, 2023
The guesses about what the Bears could, should, or would do have been all over the place.
But Carter’s name has arguably been the most consistently linked to them outside of offensive linemen Peter Skoronksi of Northwestern or Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. The latter spent one season as teammates with quarterback Justin Fields in college.
“Carter might not be on [Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron] Donald‘s level—few are—but he has the tools to quickly become one of the league’s most prolific interior defenders,” wrote Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report. “The 6’3″, 314-pound prospect is an active defender who can swallow ball-carriers and attack plays in the backfield.”
Jalen Carter is out playing the box score for Georgia in the CFP National Championship… beats the right tackle with a club and then the left guard with a swim to get in Duggan’s face and cause the INT.
Carter has looked like a top-3 prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft tonight. pic.twitter.com/9JjHbxYOCH
— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) January 10, 2023
There is also the chance they opt for a pass rusher, though none have been strongly linked.
“We’re always using as many scenarios as we can,” Cunningham said, per Courtney Cronin of ESPN. “You try to put yourself in the worst-case position and what that looks like, and you feel comfortable with the decisions in which we’ll ultimately make by putting ourselves in the worst-case situation, but again, we’ll have to wait until Thursday to see.”
Ian Cunningham Mostly Mum on Jalen Carter
“Me personally, I think just spending more time with him and really just getting to know him, we were able to be there with him,” Cunningham said, per Cronin. “Our first conversation was I think at the combine. Second time was at his pro day. I think the more time you spend around him, the more you realize he’s a good player, but you get to know him more as a person. I think ultimately, where we feel we’ve made the best decision for us and our organization.”
Cunningham did not say anything definitive either way. There just two days to go until the draft. The intrigue is high at the height of what many have properly deemed “lying season”.
"Yeah, I think it's worth it." – #Bears assistant GM Ian Cunningham when asked if he thinks it's worth taking a RB in the top 10.
— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) April 25, 2023
What actually will happen is still anyone’s guess.
“I think that’s what we always do is try to take that best player available approach,” Cunningham said, per Cronin. “I think the whole needs thing…those needs kind of get ironed out with the whole process, but ultimately it’s the best player available”
Bears Fans Get Their Wish
It took a large part of the offseason. But Bears fans no longer have to worry about Aaron Rodgers terrorizing them twice a year. The sure-fire first-ballot Hall-of-Famer has officially been traded from the Green Bay Packers to the New York Jets.
Trade compensation, per sources:
🏈Aaron Rodgers, pick No. 15, a 2023 5th-rd pick (No. 170).
🏈Pick No. 13, a 2023 2nd-rd pick (No. 42), a 6th-rd pick (No. 207), a conditional 2024 2nd-rd pick that becomes a 1st if Rodgers plays 65 percent of the plays. pic.twitter.com/Q2vUMfyZGH
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 24, 2023
Rodgers continued a cycle that started with Brett Farve. He helped the Packers overtake the Bears for the lead in the all-time series and wins in NFL history in his tenure.
The Bears will not face the Jets next season barring an unlikely Super Bowl run for both teams.