Elite edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. hopes for a future with Bears: 'I can tell they're on to something special'


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (670 The Score) -- There are a handful of scenarios in play for the Bears as they hold the No. 1 overall selection in the NFL Draft. They could stay put and add a top prospect who fits one of their many needs. Or they could stockpile extra draft capital by moving down in a trade with a team seeking the top quarterback available.

However it plays out for the Bears, what seems more clear now is that dynamic Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr. is the elite prospect who fits them best and who doesn't carry off-the-field concerns. Anderson met with the Bears earlier this week during the NFL Combine, watching film with the team’s brass and getting an understanding of what they're seeking.

“The culture is great there,” Anderson said Wednesday morning. “I can tell they’re on to something special.”

The Bears’ options at the top of the draft took a twist Wednesday morning, when it was announced that Georgia star defensive lineman Jalen Carter was the subject of an arrest warrant from the Athens-Clarke County (Ga.) Police Department over charges of reckless driving and racing in connection with a fatal crash in January.

Carter was present Wednesday morning in Indianapolis and undergoing medical testing but won't be made available for comment to the media, an NFL spokesman said after news of the arrest warrant was made public.

Anderson and Carter had been viewed on a similar tier as the top prospects in this draft class, but the charges against Carter will likely cause him to fall on draft boards. His legal situation hurts the Bears' flexibility as it pertains to a trade down and also the value of their No. 1 pick, as a player whom some analysts have ranked as their top prospect now has a complicated matter to address and off-the-field concerns swirling around him.

If the Bears want to land Anderson, they might need to stay put at No. 1 overall or at least not trade down past No. 2, a pick the quarterback-needy Texans hold.

“It would mean a lot,” Anderson said of the possibility of being selected at No. 1 overall. “All my hard work paying off. Just to have that spot, it’s big time. I’d be really appreciative of that opportunity.”

At Alabama, Anderson was a national champion, a two-time winner of the Bronko Nagurski Award as the nation’s top defensive player, a two-time All-American and a two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

Anderson’s versatility is a big part of what makes him such an attractive NFL prospect. He had 204 tackles and 34.5 sacks over three seasons at Alabama. He can play inside linebacker, rush off the edge or make plays in coverage.

As he prepares to enter the NFL, Anderson is hopeful for what he can prove at the next level.

“I see myself as a very versatile player who can do just about anything,” he said.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.

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