Ex-NFL GM sides with Jalen Carter over Will Anderson


The Bears haven't known the feeling of possessing the No. 1 overall draft pick since 1947. Now, in 2023, Chicago will get the first crack at a slew of franchise-caliber players in the draft.

With that, however, the Bears bring a special, rare circumstance. They, unlike the majority of teams in past drafts, do not need a quarterback. Hence, they have the flexibility to take a turnkey defensive player at the top of the draft. 

"If I look at this year's draft class and what I know to date, you have a chance where they're picking, to get an impact player on the defensive side of the ball," ex-NFL general manager Rick Spielman said on NBC Sports Chicago's Football Night in Chicago. "There's gonna be a lot of debate going on. Should it be Jalen Carter? Should it be Will Anderson?"

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Surely, depending on the front office's strategy, it's difficult to look past the likes of Carter and Anderson and trade down out of contention for either defensive lineman. 

The Bears owned arguably the worst defensive line last season. They recorded the least number of sacks (20) in the NFL last season, hardly pressuring opposing quarterbacks.

A player like Anderson, who punched in 27.5 sacks over the last two seasons, would benefit the Bears greatly. 


"Will Anderson, I think, has a chance to be a franchise-type pass rusher off the edge," Spielman said. "Great kid. I've spent some time with him down at Alabama."

On the other hand, the Bears' defense similarly struggled to defend opposing offenses' run game, allowing the second-most rushing yards per game and the most rushing touchdowns during last season. 

A consistent gap-stopper, like Carter, could help plug up the middle and rush the quarterback. 

"Jalen Carter is a difference maker as a three-technique or an under-tackle," Spielman said. "Those are harder to find because I don't think you're going to see any of those types of guys out in the free-agent market."

So, therein lies the question the Bears will likely ponder for a large portion of the offseason – Carter or Anderson?

"I just think it's hard to find a game-wrecking three-technique," Spielman said, referring to Carter. "I know with Chicago's defense, and what [Matt] Eberflus likes to run, that if you have a game-wrecking three-technique, that makes all the difference in the world. You can build around that.

"And those guys are rare to find, especially a Jalen Carter-type."

Spielman makes a compelling point. Eberflus mentioned himself the three-technique defensive tackle is vital to how he runs his 4-3 defensive scheme. Having Carter at his disposal would make a major difference on the Bears' defensive line. 

But, some prognosticate the Bears are in play for a trade-down situation in the draft. What if the Bears trade out of range for Carter/Anderson?

"Now, if you trade back, then some of these offensive linemen will start coming into play. But, they are not as talented as those two impact, blue chip-type players," Spielman said.

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