The Bears spent their first of three seven-round draft picks Saturday on Southern University offensive lineman Ja'Tyre Carter at No. 226.
The 6-5, 275-pounder was a basketball standout at White Castle High School in Louisiana, winning the state's Class 1A Outstanding Player of the Year Award as a senior.
Carter was a four-year starter at Southern, opening 34 games. Last season he started 11 contests and was named second-team all-Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Carter was the fourth offensive lineman the Bears selected on Day 3 of the draft. He followed Southern Utah tackle Braxton Jones (No. 168) in the fifth round and San Diego State guard/tackle Zachary Taylor (No. 186) and Illinois center Doug Kramer (No. 207) in the sixth.
Carter takes pride in his ability to play different positions along the offensive line.
"I think my versatility is what got me to this point," he said during a video call with the Chicago media. "Just being able to play multiple positions on the O-line, it gets you in the league and it keeps you there for a long time. I'm just glad I can be that versatile for a team."
Carter improved his draft stock with an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl.
"I was proving to myself that, 'yeah, I can play with [top prospects from bigger schools]," he said. "I've been saying it, and then I just went up there and proved it."
Bears area scout Breck Ackley also attended Southern University. He was a kicker and punter from 2003-06 who left as the school's all-time leading scorer. Responsible for the Southwest portion of the country, he's been scouting Carter since he arrived at Southern.
"At that level, you want to see a guy stand out," Ackley said. "The first thing you notice is he walks in the room to meet you and he looks the part. That's kind of step one. [He's] well put together, looks like an NFL lineman. And just seeing him move. You go to practice and see him move live, that's the next check box. Then obviously, you turn on the film after that and he's holding his own.
"His best game was Troy, so I think that speaks volume. When you're a guy at that level and they play a high competition, if they can play their best, that usually says a lot. And he checked all of those boxes, so that's kind of what stood out."
With the 226th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Bears select Southern offensive lineman Ja'Tyre Carter.