Bears GM Phil Emery happy with his first first-round pick, Shea McClellin
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org January 2, 2013 8:58PM
Rookie Shea McClellin impressed general manager Phil Emery with his ability to disrupt the passer. | Getty Images
Updated: February 4, 2013 2:59PM
Say what you want about Shea McClellin’s rookie season. Bears general manager Phil Emery considers his first first-round pick a success so far.
Just watch the game from Dec. 2 against the Seattle Seahawks.
“You will see everything that Shea can do as a football player,” Emery said. “I know he’s been criticized that he wasn’t good enough at the point of attack. He had three tackles at the point of the attack, going through blocks.
“He had chase tackles. He was used as a spy. He caused two disruptions on the throw as a spy. He dropped in coverage with [receiver] Doug Baldwin 20 yards up the field.
“There’s not a whole lot he can’t do. So when I said in the spring that this is a very versatile player, that’s what I meant.”
But don’t expect McClellin to replace middle linebacker Brian Urlacher just yet, even though he’s open to it.
“He’d probably tell you he could play about anything. The guy loves football,” Emery said. “It will depend on the [new] staff and the circumstance. I still see him as a [defensive] end.”
Still, McClellin’s versatility and Urlacher’s uncertain future have led to speculation that the Bears might be open to switching from former coach Lovie Smith’s cover-2 scheme to a 3-4 defense.
Emery said he doesn’t have a preference but added the Bears have “4-3 personnel.” His new coach will have to be very persuasive to convince him otherwise.
“For somebody to move from 4-3 to 3-4, they’re going to have to convince me that we have the players with the skill sets and the body types to move towards that defense,” Emery said. “A lot of people in this league are running one-gap systems and calling it a 3-4 front. What we ran in Kansas City was a 3-4 with a two-gap [system], three down linemen, big nose tackle, big ends. We don’t have those people [on the Bears].”
Emery said the Bears drafted McClellin with the 19th pick to fill a need at defensive end and “to immediately upgrade our raw mix and our rotation.”
“In our scheme, rotation is what it is all about,” he said.
To evaluate McClellin’s rookie season, Emery compared him to other pass rushers taken in the first round: the Seahawks’ Bruce Irvin (15th pick), the New York Jets’ Quinton Coples (16th) and the New England Patriots’ Chandler Jones (21st).
Emery liked what he saw regarding McClellin’s ability to disrupt the passer, especially compared to Jones and considering McClellin missed time with a concussion and a knee injury. Emery said the Bears averaged 9.5 disruptions when McClellin played and 6.5 when he was out.
“Chandler played 66 percent of their reps,” Emery said. “Shea played 38, 37, 34 percent of the reps. Shea’s disruption rate is 3.97. Chandler’s is 4.10. There’s a .13 difference between those two individuals.
“Now what becomes important is, do I feel like Shea’s got the motor, the athletic ability, the savvy to be a good starting player in the NFL? Yes, I do.”