When Chicago's pick came in at No. 19, a lot of Bears fan’s reactions were similar to this: “Wait, who?” But the Bears did exhaustive work on DE/OLB Shae McClellin and brought him in to Halas Hall for a private pre-Draft workout.
Here’s the deal: McClellin has great size, excellent movement skills, a quick first step, and (very important here) he can drop into coverage. He also has . . . I almost hesitate to say it . . . all the intangibles. He’s a great guy with a very high motor and a desire to excel (those would be intangibles). The question marks? He has marginal strength and is not an elite athlete.
Make no mistake: this is a Phil Emery pick. And Emery will have to own it, success or not. McClellin is not the type of player one would expect Lovie Smith to put his name on, and Emery had said he and Smith would collaborate exclusively on Draft decisions. Lovie likes the pure athlete and the guy with imposing strength/size. McClellin is neither.
Projected as an OLB in a 3-4 scheme, McClellin will likely play DE in the Bears’ current 4-3. And, while he was projected best suited for the 3-4, same as Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus, he’s a more versatile player . . . by far. I said from day-one that I didn’t think the Bears would take a guy like Mercilus, a situational rusher and a “one-trick pony.” McClellin is not that. “This is an all-downs football player, including special teams,” Emery said.
McClellin is first defensive end taken in round-one by Bears since Michael Haynes in 2003 and the first DE taken at pick No. 19 in the NFL in the last 14 years.
GM Phil Emery said, simply, that McClellin graded out higher than other available players like Chandler Jones and Whitney Mercilus. "In terms of his natural ability, he showed us some things that the other defensive ends did not show us."
McClellin comes to Chicago by way of Boise State. He had an impressive showing at the Combine with a 4.63 40-yard dash, second best among defensive ends.
My opinion? Initially, I like the pick. I’ll love it if he produces.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Emery said. “Because ultimately each team has got to decide who is right for them. You’ll find where the guys that are outside linebacker candidates, you have to make a decision for a 4-3 and whether that’s a true right d-end athlete or he’s a base left d-end.”
We’ll have a lot more in the coming days.