The Bears say it’s too early to rule out selecting Jalen Carter in this year’s draft. In fact, they plan on spending more time with Carter face-to-face before they finish building their draft board.
“We’ll bring him, talk to him and get to know him even better,” Poles said. “Some point in mid-April, we’ll sit down and see how we want to handle it.”
Fans and experts alike have had draft boards built for weeks, and have fun debating over mock drafts and predicting which players could go to which teams at which point over the weekend. But Poles said the Bears aren’t there yet. They spent the combine collecting information. They’ll collect even more information as they visit pro days across the nation. Then, when that’s done they’ll begin to finalize their draft board.
Perception around the league is that Carter’s draft stock is sliding. Initially, he was viewed as a surefire top-five pick as a disruptive defensive lineman. But questions about his effort and commitment to football began popping up. Then Carter was arrested and charged with two misdemeanors, reckless driving and racing, in connection with a car crash that left one Georgia teammate and one staffer dead. Carter pleaded no contest to those two charges on Thursday and was sentenced to 12 months probation, a $1,000 fine and 80 hours of community service.
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If the Bears don’t land Carter, there are several other intriguing defensive line prospects in the draft. There are opportunities for Poles to sign additional free agents, too.
“Right now, we get the sense that we have to fix everything right now and the opportunities are limited,” Poles said. “But I feel comfortable that in free agency, we’re only two days into it, as well as in the draft that we can get that group as good as we possibly can. There are going to be some weak spots on our roster that we can’t fix everything but we are going to stay flexible to do the best we can to get better.”