The Jalen Carter situation could have an impact on the Colts in the draft

Jan 9, 2023; Inglewood, CA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) against the
Jan 9, 2023; Inglewood, CA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) against the / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Carter’s ongoing legal situation could have an impact on all of the teams at the top of the 2023 NFL Draft, including the Indianapolis Colts.

On Wednesday, it was reported that there was an arrest warrant for Georgia defense tackle, Jalen Carter. The warrant was for reckless driving and racing, and stemmed from a January 15th incident where Georgia recruting staffer, Chandler LeCroy, and Georgia offensive lineman, Devin Willock, tragically died in a car crash while riding in a different car than Jalen Carter. With Carter being one of the top prospects in this year’s draft, he was at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis when news of the warrant broke and immediately went back to Georgia.

Carter has since tweeted a statement saying “There is no question in my mind that when all of the facts are known that I will be fully exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing.” He also returned to Athens, Georgia, was booked on his charges and then released on bond, and has since returned to the Combine to finish meeting with teams. It’s unclear how Carter’s situation will play out legally and what impact the situation will have on his NFL future. Depending on how everything develops, this could potentially be a major shakeup for all of the teams at the top of the draft.

Carter is considered one of the three best players in this year’s draft class. Many have predicted that he could be the first-overall pick, and the fifth-overall pick at the latest. Carter and Alabama edge rusher, Will Anderson, are the two best defensive players in the draft and one or the other is expected to end up with the Chicago Bears.

With the Bears having the No. 1 pick, many experts believed that they would be willing to trade back with quarterback-needy teams like the Indianapolis Colts, and just select one of the defensive talents a few spots back. However, with the recent Carter development, that equation could be thrown off for Chicago and possible trade partners like the Colts.

Could Jalen Carter impact a trade between Colts and Bears?

The NFL has seen pre-draft incidents before, and they usually impact a player’s draft stock. Several top-five talents have slid in previous drafts because of off-the-field things. Again, it’s currently unclear how Carter’s legal situation will unfold and how this will affect teams’ evaluation of Carter. It is possible, though, that teams won’t feel comfortable selecting Carter with a top five pick. If that’s the case, the Bears could be more reluctant to trade back, especially as far back as No. 4.

If Chicago loved both Will Anderson and Jalen Carter as prospects, the Bears probably would be really comfortable trading back to No. 4, knowing that they’ll end up with one of the top defensive prospects. The expectation for the first four teams have been Chicago and the Arizona Cardinals taking defenders, while the Colts and the Houston Texans select quarterbacks. However, it’s now possible that the Bears won’t be comfortable with an either or situation between Anderson and Carter.

Trading back with the Colts would allow the Cardinals to select Will Anderson before Chicago, and then the Bears would be forced to decide if they want to select Carter in the top five or go an entirely different direction. That’s going to be a tough decision that the Bears have to make as things unfold leading up to the draft.

The Bears may just decide that they don’t want to miss out on Anderson, so they’ll stay at No. 1 to select him. Or, Chicago could negotiate with the Texans to move one spot back to ensure Houston gets the QB it wants, and the Bears can still get Will Anderson. That would unfortunately leave the Colts on the outs. Maybe Chicago would still be willing to do business with Indianapolis but Indy would have to send an even heftier package since the Bears would possibly be missing out on Anderson.

It’s also possible that this may not affect Chicago’s draft strategy at all. Maybe the Bears will still be willing to take Carter or maybe Chicago would be fine with other defensive prospects like Myles Murphy or Tyree Wilson. That certainly would be the best-case scenario for the Colts because it’s would still give them a chance to trade to No. 1.

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