Like most Chicago Bears fans watching the draft, my reaction to the announcement of Shea McClellin's selection in the first round was followed by a confused "huh?"
All the draft hype I had heard about McClellin was that he was a great fit for a 3-4 team, so I'm sure many of you were asking the same question as me: Why did Chicago just draft a 3-4 linebacker to play as our 4-3 defensive end?
With players like Whitney Mercilus, Chandler Jones and Nick Perry all left on the board and all natural 4-3 defensive ends, it's easy to see why the fans may be confused by the selection.
I'd heard comparisons to Brian Cushing and Mike Vrabel, which made me think whether Phil Emery had just drafted McClellin to play alongside Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher. But McClellin was no doubt drafted to play opposite Julius Peppers as a defensive end.
So, having not done much research on the Boise State product, I did what any sensible and intrigued fan would do. Go to YouTube, search for some highlights and see what we had just invested into.
The results? It looks like the Bears just got themselves a player.
McClellin recorded 33 tackles for a loss and 20.5 sacks in his career at Boise State with 12.5 tackles for a loss in his final year to go along with his seven sacks. Not eye-popping numbers by any means but still decent.
For one, I was pleasantly surprised by how many highlights started with McClellin in a three-point stance. I'm not gonna sit here and pretend I know everything about the guy, but he's got an exceptional motor and he knows how to get to the ball.
The Broncos were very creative with McClellin, lining him up as a defensive end, outside linebacker and inside linebacker in some plays. Though the Bears aren't known for their creativity on defence, McClellin gives them a unique opportunity should they wish to give offenses a different look to what they are used to.
It's easy to see why the Bears "reached" for him with the 19th pick. He's a playmaker.
Sure, you can say that he's playing for Boise State and he's not playing against elite talent, but the guy makes play after play after play. If he's not sacking the quarterback or making a tackle for a lose, he's in and around the ball or forcing pressure.
One play on his highlight reel sticks out as memorable to say the least. McClellin lines up at weak-side defensive end and is left unblocked by design. The fullback comes behind the line looking for a trap-block and tries to cut McClellin, who decides to leap over the block and tackle the running back at the line of scrimmage.
Though McClellin isn't weak against the run, the Bears did re-sign defensive end Israel Idonije in free agency so it's up to Rod Marinelli whether he wants to use McClellin as a third-down pass-rusher or rotate between Idonije and McClellin to suit both their skill sets
The one thing you can say about the rest of the NFC North is that its offensive lines aren't the strongest. It's the reason why the Packers picked Derek Sherrod last year, the Vikings selected Matt Kalil with the fourth overall pick and the Lions drafted Riley Reiff later in the round.
The Bears already have two players in Julius Peppers and Henry Melton who can get to the quarterback. So you can almost guarantee that McClellin will get ample opportunity to test himself in one-on-one matchups.
And when playing in Lovie Smith's Cover 2, a four-man rush which can cause pressure in the NFC North is priceless.
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