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(CBS) As we count down to Bourbonnais, a panel of 15 670 The Score hosts, reporters and producers ranked their top 10 most important Bears players for the 2012 season. We compiled the rankings into one master list and will release the 10 Most Important Bears over the next 10 weekdays.
No. 10 Shea McClellin (28 points)
This is a fitting spot for the Bears’ first-round draft pick. He’s still a relatively unknown commodity, but Bears general manager Phil Emery made it clear when they drafted McClellin that they expect him to have an immediate impact at the defensive end position.
And the Bears need him to have an immediate impact.
With question marks in the secondary and Julius Peppers facing double teams on almost every snap, it’s imperative for the defensive line to improve in 2012. At this point, we pretty much know what Israel Idonije can do and in a perfect world, McClellin would push Idonije for the starting job in training camp. That might be optimistic, but it would also be the definition of “immediate impact” that Emery talked about after the draft.
A more realistic scenario is McClellin starts the season with the No. 2s, receives a good amount of playing time early in the season, and eventually takes over as the starter mid-season.
That might be a lot to ask from a rookie, but in the NFL, that’s what you expect from a first-round draft pick. Bears fans have seen way too many first-rounders fail and this is Emery’s first pick with the Bears. Fair or not, there is pressure on Emery for McClellin to succeed.
More importantly, the Bears’ defense needs McClellin to succeed to take pressure off the secondary. The additions on offense are great, but they won’t mean a whole lot if an aging defense regresses in 2012. The Bears need new, young playmakers.
They need Shea McClellin.
The 10 Most Important Bears were decided by 15 Score contributors who ranked their most important players from 1-10. The rankings were then compiled into a master list by assigning point values to the votes (a No. 1 vote is worth 10 points and a No. 10 vote is worth 1 point).
The panel: Mike Mulligan, Zach Zaidman, Laurence Holmes, Matt Spiegel, Adam Hoge, Jason Goff, Matt Abbatacola, Ben Finfer, Jay Zawaski, Nick Shepkowski, David Schuster, Herb Lawrence, Craig Miller, Dennis Gambino and Brendan McCaffrey.