NFL Draft 2012: Grading the Chicago Bears' Selection of Shea McClellin
The Chicago Bears were on the clock with the 19th pick in the draft, and for many fans, they thought Christmas had come early.
These included guys like offensive tackle Riley Reiff and defensive ends Chandler Jones and Illinois Fighting Illini DE Whitney Mercilus. Considering these were the needs for the Bears, it seemed a no-brainer they'd take one of these three guys.
Let's analyze why McClellin is a Bear.
Why Did the Bears Take McClellin?
Because the Bears are in need of another prominent pass-rusher with Julius Peppers not getting any younger. With improvements on the offense, the Bears had every right to go defensive end here even though they still have issues on the offensive line.
But why did new general manager use his first ever first-round pick on McClellin? He has a decent body at 6'3" and 260 pounds and has decent speed.
He's someone who could be very dangerous on nickel packages when the opposition needs to pass.
He also comes from a school that has gone 50-3 in its last four years, and an unsung hero of Boise State's success has been their dominant defensive line.
However, while the intangibles are all there, no one had this guy pegged as a Top 20 pick. Why exactly?
Why Was McClellin Not Rated in the Top 20??
Simply put, most draft analysts believed guys like Mercilus and Jones were higher-rated defensive ends, whether it was due to natural pass-rushing abilities or body size or strength.
Another thing that should be considered is McClellin is the type of player that may not be a true defensive end. He was often used as a linebacker which pegged him potentially as a system-type of player who would be used all over the field.
For some teams that is a valuable asset. For others, it means the guy never settles in and ends up being another bust story.
So where does that leave the Bears?
This Has Disaster Written All over It
With so many higher-rated guys available, I think this was an awful pick by the Bears. A big reason why McClellin was rated lower was because he doesn't have a true position. With his body frame, speed and above-average tackling ability, McClellin was best suited in a 3-4 defense where he could be a linebacker, similar to Clay Matthews Jr.
Any Bears fan would know that this team still strictly adheres to a 4-3 defense. While the Tampa 2 has gone more and more towards a Cover 3 defense, this team hardly, if ever, employs four linebackers at a given moment.
In the Bears defensive scheme, McClellin could end up being undersized as a defensive end, but too big to be an outside linebacker.
In the end, the Bears should have drafted a guy like Chandler Jones. Yes, there are durability issues with him, but he's a more natural 4-3 defensive end as he stands over 6'5".
Frankly, a fear is that the Bears could have taken McClellin to keep him away from Green Bay, whom many people believed he would fall to. While this line of reasoning may be a stretch, what other explanations are there for Chicago to take a guy that looks like he doesn't fit into this system?
If he is coming to Chicago strictly to rush a passer on 3rd down, that's a pretty big waste. Frankly, it reminds me of when Cam Cameron tried to sell Dolphins fans on the fact that Ted Ginn Jr. was taken so high because he could return punts really well.
Again, he doesn't fit as a true defensive end. In fact, ESPN has him listed as a linebacker. While Brian Urlacher isn't exactly small, he has a rare make-up that has him excel at his position, which is why he is likely going to the Hall of Fame.
No offense to McClellin, but he's no Brian Urlacher, especially considering Shea would have to play on the outside.
Considering there were more natural ends available, and the poor fit I believe McClellin will be on this team, there is no way I could give the Bears anything resembling a good grade.
Bears GM Phil Emery has made some nice free-agent signings. However in this case, he looked dangerously like Jerry Angelo.