One of the biggest questions for the Chicago Bears this offseason has been what they will do with the number one pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Bears have needs at almost every position – so where do they start? General manager Ryan Poles has already come out and said that he would have to be “blown away” in order to draft a quarterback to replace Justin Fields, so taking top prospect Bryce Young from the University of Alabama is off the table. It is possible that the Bears will trade back with a team who needs a quarterback, like the Houston Texans or Indianapolis Colts. But if the Bears do keep their pick, it is most likely that they will go defense first: either defensive tackle or edge rusher. The top prospects from each of these positions are defensive tackle Jalen Carter from the University of Georgia, and edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. from the University of Alabama.
The number one prospect at his position, defensive tackle Jalen Carter from Georgia is just the type of player that can bring the Bears defense back to the elite level it was at in 2018. Carter is a five-star recruit from Florida. He is considered one of the best, if not the best, player on Georgia’s star defense (And that includes their five first round draft picks from the 2022 draft), and played an essential role in both of Georgia’s national championship teams. During these two seasons, Carter combined for 15.5 tackles for loss and six sacks, as well as two forced fumbles in the 2022 season. Furthermore, in 2022 Carter was both First-Team All-SEC and First-Team All-American. Jalen Carter is an elite athlete. Even though he is 300 pounds, he has natural athleticism and speed. Carter is a well-rounded athlete who shows up against both the pass and run game. He has quick acceleration off the line of scrimmage and uses that to put constant pressure on the offensive line. His quickness combined with his strong hands and agility.
Will Anderson Jr.:
Will Anderson Jr., also known as the “quarterback hunter,” is a stud edge rusher from Alabama. Anderson is a dynamic player who is capable of changing the course of a game. During the 2020 season, Anderson was a rare freshman starter and made a name for himself on Nick Saban’s defense, recording 10.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks (Third in the SEC). In 2021, Anderson had a dominant season with 17.5 sacks and three passes defended. In 2022, Anderson has a solid season with 51 total tackles and 10 sacks. Anderson can bring great instincts, field awareness, and energy to this lackluster Bears defense. Anderson is quick off the ball, and uses his elite instincts to anticipate the offense’s move in order to give him a head start over his blockers. Anderson is an elite pursuit defender, and has strong hands for blocking. Anderson may not be a “freak athlete” like others in his class, but he has the power, intuition, and drive to be a strong player for the Bears defense.
Whatever the Bears do will come down to how they can maximize value. In a perfect world, the Bears trade down and are still able to draft Carter or Anderson. Poles will have a big decision the next few months before the draft on how to create the most advantageous situation for the Bears, as making the most out of this opportunity is absolutely essential for both the 2023 season and the franchise’s future.