By Chris Emma–
(CBS) When Adam Shaheen breaks the huddle, he’s pretty hard to miss.
At 6-foot-6 and 278 pounds, Shaheen is a large target for the Bears’ offense. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky marveled at the size of his new tight end, who earned the nickname “Baby Gronk” for his dominance at the Division-II level with Ashland University, setting a school record with 16 touchdowns last season.
But can he dominate at the NFL level, too? The Bears certainly believe so. Coach John Fox could envision it the first day of rookie minicamp.
“I saw the same thing here today,” Fox said Friday. “The size and the quickness and the length that he has, regardless of what school he played at, that transfers here, and I thought it did today.”
General manager Ryan Pace’s draft plans were dragged through the mud by the national pundits. It was one of the more interesting classes in recent memory — highlighted by a trade up that might not have been needed to acquire the franchise quarterback, followed by selecting three players from below the FBS level and a safety from Alabama who suffered a broken leg last season.
Ultimately, the Bears’ 2017 class will be judged by Trubisky. Knowing that was a big reason they brought in Shaheen, who they hope can serve as a go-to target to help Trubisky be comfortable and even better. A former executive for the Saints, Pace envisions Trubisky and Shaheen as his Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham.
So when the Bears were on the clock with the 45th pick, Pace stood by the belief in what Shaheen could be at this next level.
“A guy that big, he’s a difficult guy to defend in traffic,” Pace said. “He’s big, he can go attack the ball and he’s got really good concentration.
Despite the major transition needed for Shaheen, the Bears believe he can make an impact this season. The development process must be thorough as they grow the raw player into an NFL talent, but Pace envisions Shaheen lining up for Mike Glennon in 2017.
Convictions in Shaheen started with longtime scout Jeff Shiver, who worked extensively on scouting Shaheen. Pace and his brass could soon see the potential when popping in the tape of him at Ashland, where he looked like a Cyborg, but seeing Shaheen in person is a different experience — the way he moves and uses his size to make plays.
“Adam’s going to be a great player,” Trubisky said Friday. “It’s really cool to throw to him. You can tell he loves being out here as well. I’ve never thrown to a guy that big. He has huge range to catch the ball, so it makes it a lot easier for me.”
Drafting Shaheen was a gamble by Pace. If the Bears’ secondary falters, he’ll face heat for passing on the number of talented defensive backs still available in the second round. Many viewed Shaheen as a third- or even fourth-round selection, but Pace didn’t dare pass on him in the second round. By taking him there, the Bears have set expectations quite for him.
Rookie minicamp confirmed that Shaheen is indeed a rather large target and can move well. His goal is to earn the faith of Trubisky, and the Bears are thrilled about his potential.
Time will tell if it does indeed translate to the NFL.