By Laurence W. Holmes-
(WSCR) Considering the amount of quality players that were available at a position of need for the Bears, it would’ve been pretty hard for Phil Emery to make a selection that left fans scratching their heads, but somehow he did it.
The selection of Shea McClellin is a curious one, but I wanted to take the night, sleep on it, watch some tape and do some digging before I came to a conclusion. I’m left perplexed.
Here’s what I like about the pick:
– McClellin is fast. His 40 time at the combine was just barely slower than WR prospect Kendall Wright (who a lot of fans liked.) 4.66 compared to 4.61. The Bears do love speed. Working opposite of Julius Peppers will allow him to be single blocked. He’s probably not as big as you’d like him to be, but Elvis Dumervil & Dwight Freeney have made careers using their speed and creating counter-moves.
– He’s got football instincts. While the Bears love his speed, it seems as if they were more impressed with his approach to the game. That is a bit of a departure from recent draft picks. The Bears have been more inclined to take an athlete and try to “coach him up.” When you watch him, you see he has a feel for the ball and knows what to do when he gets off a block. In his college career, he looked to strip & pick when he couldn’t make it home. He has good technique when ripping the ball out. That’s a major plus for a Lovie Smith defender. I watched the Boise St vs. San Diego St. game start to finish (I know I have a problem) last winter and before I cared about McClellin, he stood out.
– He’s versatile. The Bears can use him in a bunch of different roles. He has experience dropping into coverage and making plays. He doesn’t look uncomfortable in space. So if they do some zone blitzing (which you saw some of last season), he can be a very valuable player.
Here’s what I don’t like:
– He’s small. At 260 pounds, McClellin is about the same size as Brian Urlacher, but I think he lacks 54’s size-strength ratio. McClellin only did 19 reps of 225lbs at the Combine. To give him the benefit of the doubt, usually guys with longer arms don’t do well at bench press. My concern is that if he isn’t a quick study and doesn’t show a variety of moves, big tackles are going to swallow him up and decrease his effectiveness.
– Is he right for this system? McClellin spent the Senior Bowl working at LB. The Bears think that gave them in advantage in scouting him because most people saw him as a OLB/RE in a 3-4 system. The Bears play in a 4-3 system that is designed to get pressure with the front four and keep the back seven looking at the quarterback.
– Did they reach for a him? Plenty of projections had McClellin in the 3rd round or later. I’m all for targeting a player, but I wonder if the team from up north had anything to do with the Bears selection. McCllelin would be perfect for the 3-4, crazy blitzing scheme the Packers run. It’s possible that they identified him as someone who could come in and contribute immediately. If the Bears felt they couldn’t take the risk, OK, but was McClellin graded so much higher than other available players at the position that they HAD to have him?
All of these are of course just initial thoughts. I’m looking forward to seeing him play and I’m willing to give Phil Emery the benefit of the doubt. If McClellin is smart, he’s picking Julius Pepper’s brain as soon as possible.
You can follow my thoughts on the Bears draft via Twitter: @LaurenceWHolmes