I Think Those Jalen Carter "Character Issues" Just Got Debunked

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I Think Those Jalen Carter “Character Issues” Just Got Debunked

Chicago Bears, NFL

Long before we knew the Bears would have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Jalen Carter was on our radar.

In early December, we saw Carter as a possible Bears fit when the team was on the verge of locking in a top-5 pick. After watching Carter contribute to Georgia’s second consecutive national championship run, the menacing defensive lineman declared for the NFL Draft. And we’ve seen a bunch of mock drafts send Carter to Chicago in a variety of ways. Some have Carter going to the Bears with the first pick, while others send him to Chicago after a trade back. But however you slice it, adding Carter to that defense is a dreamy proposition.

Although, there was one thing I was hoping would clear up at some point before the 2023 NFL Draft.

In the middle of December, ESPN analyst Todd McShay brought up “character concerns” regarding Carter. They seemed to come out of nowhere. Nevertheless, they were head-turning comments:

With Carter, there’s some character issues. Does he get along with everybody? What’s he like to deal with in the locker room? Those sorts of issues. I know it’s early in the process, but I’m forewarning everyone out there: Carter’s going to be kind of a hot-button name when we talk about some of the intangible aspects of it. … But that will be the big discussion. It’s not about his talent, about his size, or his explosive takeoff, and finishing as a pass rusher. It’s about the character, ‘Do we want to bring that guy into the building?’

McShay is one of the most well-known draft analysts doing it today. So even though his comments came out of nowhere back in December, I found them to be notable. Moreover, I made sure to take note of them just in case we had to circle back. After all, the more perspectives we have on a player, the better off we all are.

With that being said, I think any chatter about “character issues” can be put to rest thanks in part to this Bruce Feldman piece at The Athletic:

This is a must-read piece if you’re looking to get a better idea of a prospect who will be seen as an option for the Bears on draft day until the pick goes on the board.

Feldman’s deep dive unearths this anecdote, which gives us a different perspective on who Carter is as a teammate:

Scott pointed out who he thought might be the ideal person to comment on Carter’s character. Weston Wallace is a player perhaps only the most diehard of Bulldogs fans know. A sophomore, the 6-foot-4, 320-pounder used to go up against Carter every day at practice when he was a scout team offensive lineman his first two seasons at Georgia (the walk-on switched to the defensive line this year).

Before this season Carter found out that Wallace, as a walk-on, couldn’t eat all the meals the scholarship defensive linemen were getting. Walk-ons weren’t able to eat lunch, but this year the players were given the choice to buy it.

“Jalen heard about that. I’m the only walk-on in the defensive line room and he goes, ‘I’m not gonna let that happen.’ So he used his scholarship money to pay for me to get lunch every single day,” Wallace said.

What a selfless act. One that would put to rest any questions about wanting that guy in the building? A butt-kicker who was a unanimous All-American, two-time All-SEC player, and national champion is someone I’d want at Halas Hall. That he is mindful enough to share his blessings with teammates who are less fortunate only adds to the allure.

Call it a gut feeling if you’d like. But I have a hunch we’ll be talking about Carter a bunch over the next few months. And even though the best-case scenario is one where the Bears trade out of the first pick and still take Carter, maybe a timeline exists where the team takes Carter with the first pick. That’s a different discussion for a different day. Just know it’s probably coming, though.

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.