While McClellin was initially expected to be a mid-round pick, his stock rose considerably just before the draft. The Bears are looking for McClellin to make an immediate impact this season and provide another outside presence to complement All-Pro defensive end Julius Peppers. Here are three things that the Bears hope McClellin brings to the table this season.
Rushing the Passer
The Bears drafted McClellin because of his speed and ability to rush the passer. He's small for a true 4-3 defensive end, but the Bears hope that his speed and constant motor will make up for it.
Julius Peppers frequently faces double-teams on the other side of the defensive line, and McClellin will face a lot of single coverage. If he can beat his man with a quick first move, McClellin may be able to chase opposing quarterbacks into Peppers or vice versa.
Dropping into Pass Coverage
McClellin isn't a "typical" big, physical defensive end that you see in 4-3 defenses. His skill comes in speed and aggressive play. McClellin will be effective as a speed rusher, but he also has the ability to drop into pass coverage.
While he might not be a guy who can cover a tight end like Brandon Pettigrew or Jermichael Finley all the way down the field, McClellin will be able to jam them off the line to slow them down. He can also drop into the flat and break up swing passes and check downs to opposing running backs.
Flexibility for the Future
While the Bears have one of the better defenses in the league, many of the key players are getting up there in age. Julius Peppers, Israel Idonije, Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher will all be at least 32 years old by the end of the season. Over the next several years, the Bears are going to need as much flexibility as possible and McClellin gives them that.
Many people believe that he is better suited as a 3-4 outside linebacker. If the Bears shift to that style of defense over the next several seasons, McClellin will have the flexibility to make that shift.