The Chicago Bears are in the middle of a rebuild; led by GM Ryan Poles, the Bears are intent on building the best team possible around franchise quarterback Justin Fields. As a result of their belief in Fields, the Bears did not hesitate to trade down during the 2023 NFL Draft, amassing as much draft capital as they could while filling other roster needs. This led some pundits and fans to believe that the Bears may end up taking Jalen Carter, one of the highest regarded prospects of his class, regardless of position, should he slip in the draft due to some off-field concerns.
Alas, instead of drafting Carter with the ninth overall pick they received from the Carolina Panthers, they traded down even further, receiving the 10th overall pick in return and drafting offensive tackle Darnell Wright out of Tennessee. Picking up Wright could end up being the right move anyway, since the Bears have a pressing need at their offensive line given Fields' vulnerability to sacks this past season.
However, some believe that Jalen Carter's raw talent was simply too much to pass up. Thus, some reporters asked Ryan Poles why he decided not to draft the 22-year old. And the Bears GM was adamant that Carter simply may not have been the right fit given where they are in their rebuilding stage.
“I will say that our culture is important. I'll say that we know where our roster is right now and what it can handle and what it can't handle, and think that's part of being intelligent in this space,” Poles said, per Mark Grote of WSCR Radio.
Poles simply doubled down on his first statement; the Bears GM had already said that the organization places a premium on character, so they might be concerned that the team doesn't have the requisite infrastructure to deal with Jalen Carter and his off-field issues.
Only time will tell if the Bears' decision to pass up on Carter ends up biting them on the backside. But given the risk involved, Poles' decision-making in this regard definitely seems like it's based on rational thinking.