2012 NFL Draft Grades: Making Sense of the Chicago Bears' Shea McClellin Pick

Rob TongContributor IIIApril 26, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26:  Shea McClellin (R) of Boise State holds up a jersey as he stands on stage after he was selected #19 overall by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The first pick of the Phil Emery era is Boise State defensive end Shea McClellin.

Practically no one saw that coming.

Some think McClellin is the next coming of Dick Butkus. Others think it was a reach since McClellin wasn't even the best player available.

McClellin has been a fast riser in recent weeks, much like Bruce Irvin and Chandler Jones.

What makes the McClellin pick interesting is whom the Bears passed up to take him. Pass rushers like Nick Perry, Whitney Mercilus and Jones were still available, as well as receiver Kendall Wright, guard David DeCastro and offensive tackle Riley Reiff.

There's a lot to like about McClellin. He explodes off the snap, has a variety of pass rush moves, possesses outstanding football IQ, is an above-average run defender and is a natural leader.

But perhaps the biggest reason for the McClellin pick is that he is arguably the most versatile defender in the draft.

He can rush the passer, but he demonstrated in the Senior Bowl that he can also play both OLB and ILB. McClellin has the athletic versatility to cover backs and tight ends.

This gives the Bears more flexibility for the second and third rounds on Friday. If a solid pure pass rusher like Vinny Curry happens to fall to the Bears at No. 50, the team can take him and play McClellin more in a linebacker role. Or if another strong linebacker they love is available in the third round, they can take him and play McClellin more as a defensive end.

While McClellin may not be the best player available, the McClellin pick gives the Bears more options for the rest of the draft.

Receivers like Stephen Hill and Rueben Randle are still available, as well as defensive ends Courtney Upshaw and Vinny Curry. Tight end Coby Fleener likely won't last—though stranger things have happened in this draft so far—but plenty of cornerbacks will likely be on the board as well as some strong defensive tackles.

Overall, while I'm not in love with this pick, I'm not upset about it. McClellin offers a lot of potential. I just wonder if the Bears could have traded down, picked up an extra pick and still gotten McClellin.

The only major disappointment of this draft is that the Packers were able to nab Nick Perry.

The entire first round outside of the first two picks were pretty much a surprise, but that's what makes the draft so exciting.

Friday should be no different.

My grade: B+