Upon further review, Bears might be right on Shea McClellin
BY MARK POTASH Twitter: @MarkPotash April 27, 2012 12:17PM
Another Chicago Bears player had a similar scouting report to that of Shea McClellin. His name: Brian Urlacher. | AP
Were you happy with the Bears' first-round selection of Shea McClellin?
Updated: April 27, 2012 5:11PM
It didn’t take long for Phil Emery to leave us wondering if he knows something we don’t.
On paper it appears Emery not only reached, but gambled by taking Boise State linebacker/defensive end Shea McClellin with the 19th pick in the first round of the NFL draft. McClellin was almost universally pegged to go late in the first round or early in the second round. And even the rare mock drafts that had McClellin going earlier — like Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com, who predicted he would go to the Chargers at No. 18 — had McClellin pegged for a 3-4 defense.
The McClellin pick has elicited more comparisons to Dan Bazuin and Michael Haynes, two defensive end washouts from previous drafts, than anybody else, because it’s hard to find a Bears draft pick like him who actually panned out.
Would it help if he became the next Trace Armstrong? Probably not. Armstrong, the 12th overall pick in 1989, was a productive player in six seasons with the Bears — 10 sacks in 1990, 11.5 in 1993 — and made the Pro Bowl with 16.5 sacks for Dave Wannstedt and the Dolphins in 2000. But Bears fans are expecting Emery to get more than that out of the 19th pick this year. Or hoping, at least.
Despite the skepticism, after re-reading the draft-guide scouting reports on McClellin, I felt a regret similar to when I look back at the form to see what I missed in the winning horse I failed to consider, let alone put $2 on. Without having seen McClellin even in shorts as a Bear, I’ll say this: McClellin is closer to Brian Urlacher than he is to Dan Bazuin. His versatility, size and athleticism make him a better candidate to succeed somewhere on the Bears’ defense. When Bazuin failed at defensive end he had nowhere to go. McClellin has options.
I’ll let you be the judge. Here are the scouting reports on McClellin and Urlacher from Pro Football Weekly’s Draft Guide:
SHEA McCLELLIN: ‘‘Outstanding size. Has large, quick hands and uses them actively in unison with his feet — efficient mover. Good movement skills and body control. Has quick first step and can turn the corner. Effective looping and stunting. Locates the ball. Wrap tackler. Can drop into short zones. Competes and plays hard — motor always runs.
‘‘Played from two- and three-point stance. Has special-teams experience and the appropriate makeup. Showed well against Georgia’s Cordy Glenn. Smart, aware and assignment-sound. Solid Senior Bowl performance. Terrific character and work habits.’’
BRIAN URLACHER: ‘‘Terrific all-around athlete with outstanding stamina and endurance. Big, strong, fast and agile. Tough and instinctive with outstanding intangibles. Top competitor. Extremely versatile. Has the best hands on the team and is the team’s best special teams player and tackler.’’
SHEA McCLELLIN: ‘‘Marginal weight-room strength — managed only 19 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press at the Combine. Has tweener traits — lacks ideal bulk and strength for a defensive end and lacks ideal flexibility and explosiveness for a linebacker. Overmatched by power — pinballed by double teams. Needs to improve pass-rush variety. Average edge burst at the top of his rush.’’
BRIAN URLACHER: ‘‘He never really has been locked into a position. Is more of a hybrid type who can play almost anywhere and loves to play all three phases of the game. As a result, he has not fully mastered a position.
‘‘Would appear to be best suited to be an outside ‘backer, but he has never really played there on a full-time basis. Maybe be a little too big for safety in the NFL and has a lot to learn about blocking if you want him at tight end.’’
SHEA McCLELLIN: ‘‘Lean, smooth-muscled, active, instinctive college defensive end with a relentless temperament. Functional, character football player who plays better than he tests and could warrant consideration as a stand-up, upfield 3-4 rush ‘backer. Versatility and dependability increase comfort level and could drive up draft status.
BRIAN URLACHER: ‘‘Top athlete whose versatility is both a curse and a blessing in the eyes of some teams. Reminds me a lot of Brad Van let when Van Pelt came to the Giants as an All-America rover-monsterman from Michigan State. Van Pelt struggled to find a position at first and was known as a jack of all trades and master of none until he mastered the OLB position and became a Pro Bowl player.’’
That doesn’t mean Shea McClellin will be the next Brian Urlacher. But there’s nothing there that indicates he’s the next Dan Bazuin, either. McClellin’s top negative is his ‘‘marginal weight-room strength.’’ There’s a weight room at Halas Hall the last time I checked. Dan Bazuin’s negatives were ‘‘not a great natural athlete’’ and ‘‘a lot of production comes from the design of the scheme.’’
And here’s another thing to consider: Shea McClellin will be coached by Rod Marinelli, who has a history of getting talented linemen to max out. Bazuin’s position coach was Brick Haley, who had never coached in the NFL before he came to the Bears in 2007, when Bazuin was drafted. Nothing against Haley — who is the line coach for LSU’s top-rated defense — but there’s a reason why Lovie Smith hired Marinelli in 2009. Shea McClellin is one of them. After taking McClellin with the 19th pick of the draft, Rod Marinelli is officially on the clock.