You cannot win in the NFL without a pass rush.
This is an unavoidable, inescapable fact. A dominant force to get after the quarterback is second to only said quarterback, making it one of the most important aspects of the NFL today. Behind promising yet inconsistently available third-year man Leonard Floyd and free agent signee Aaron Lynch (and the latter is not a long-term answer), the Bears have nobody.
Save for a Bradley Chubb related miracle in the draft — in which case I’ll need to buy some lottery tickets — the value will not be there for the Bears to take an edge rusher with the eighth pick. Harold Landry and Marcus Davenport are nice, but they aren’t top-10 selections.
In spite of that, the Bears need to pick a pass rusher and they need to do it relatively early. What better place to do that than in the second round, where Ryan Pace has had great success so far. A target in that area of the draft, and at the outside linebacker position should be Georgia’s, Lorenzo Carter. He’s going to be a steal in this draft and the Bears would be wise to pounce on the chance to take him outside the first round.
Player: Lorenzo Carter
Position: Edge Rusher
Size: 6’6,” 250 pounds
He’s extremely long
If you take a peek at Vic Fangio’s track record of selecting pass rushers, almost every single one of them fits a certain threshold when it comes to length. Carter surpasses it with his 34-inch arms. These can be vital in creating separation between himself and his blocker, which is the first thing any defensive lineman is taught when they learn the position. Separation is everything in pass rush and long arms can help with that.
His closing speed is second to none
When Carter defeats his man, or takes advantage of a miscommunication and has a clear path to the quarterback, watch out. He’ll be there more quickly than any edge rusher in the country and use his momentum to deliver a punishing blow to the passer, occasionally resulting in a fumble.
His 4.50 40-time is mightily impressive but it means nothing if he can’t display that speed on tape, and he absolutely can. Carter’s speed and burst off the line of scrimmage is the vast majority of his game as a pass rusher. It reminds me of watching Derek Barnett‘s game last season, and he went top-15.
He’s relentless in pursuit and has a high motor
One of the top things that teams look for in defensive players is what they are doing when the offense runs or throws, or rolls out to the opposite side of the field. Do they say “you know what, I’ll take this play off, it’s not coming to me” — or do they do everything they can to help make a play?
For Carter, it’s always the latter. You love to see that effort-centric element to somebody’s game, and he’s made more than a few chase down plays at or near the line of scrimmage due to it. His speed plays a role there as well but it’s largely attributed to his motor and pursuit.
He’s much stronger than he’s given credit for
Yes, Carter is not as bulky or as strong as you’d like and I’ll be sure to touch on that in the “negatives” section. But watching his tape made me think that tales of Carter getting overpowered by stronger tackles and pulling guards is overblown. Specifically, one of his best games of the season was against Notre Dame, who has one of the beefier lines in the country led by Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey. Both will be first round picks, and Carter was matched up against the latter for a good portion of the game and did quite well, contributing to a Georgia victory.
His sack production isn’t where you’d like it to be
This was an issue with the other lanky, lightning-quick pass rusher out of Georgia to be taken high in the draft in the past few years, Leonard Floyd. Carter’s college career high in sacks is five, which is nothing to be proud of. Georgia does like to drop their edge rushers into coverage more than usual, so that may be a contributing factor, but he’ll need to prove that he can get the results necessary to have a long and successful career in the NFL.
He needs to add a lot of muscle
This is the primary concern with Carter, as 250 pounds is very undersized especially for a 6’6″ player. It isn’t as worrisome as some make it out to be, but it is a concern nonetheless. The areas where it affected him on tape the most were in the run game and in tackling. He’ll struggle with bigger, stronger linemen early in his career in the run game, where he didn’t make a huge impact except for in backside pursuit.
In college, it was troublesome for him to tackle larger running backs by himself, and it will be even more of an issue when he has the face the Bell’s, the Elliot’s, and (though hopefully, he’ll be his teammate) the Howard’s of the world.
He’s more refined than you would think — but still raw
Carter has a more advanced repertoire of maneuvers than, say, a Marcus Davenport, but he still should show more variety. He doesn’t use power moves nearly enough, and though he’s a skilled hand fighter he should work on a spin or a bull rush to mix things up for more experienced and skilled offensive lineman.
He was coached by Mel Tucker in college
So…hopefully good ole’ Mel didn’t ruin him like he ruined everything in Chicago.
Every year I watch some tape and I notice a couple guys that jump out at me as steals. Last year, I became particularly enamored with David Njoku out of Miami (and into Cleveland, so maybe I was wrong about him) and Ryan Switzer out of my many, many hours of watching Trubisky film.
This year, Lorenzo Carter is that guy.
If he falls to the Bears at 39th overall, I would be highly disappointed if he didn’t come to Chicago, especially because he fits the mold of what Pace and Fangio love in an edge rusher. If Carter can add some muscle, he has a very real chance to be a star in this league. He and Floyd have the potential to be a deadly duo in the Windy City.
If Carter so much as gets past day one of the drafts, I’d be calling the teams ahead of the Bears in the hopes of a trade up.
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