A day after pulling the boldest, most surprising move of the first round to acquire quarterback Mitch Trubisky, Bears general manager Ryan Pace raised more eyebrows in the second round of the NFL draft when he selected tight end Adam Shaheen from Division II Ashland (Ohio) University with the 45th overall pick.
The 6-6, 278-pound Shaheen is a late bloomer who started his college career playing basketball at Pittsburgh-Johnstown at 6-5, 195 pounds. With classic size and impressive athleticism, he has the potential to produce in the mold of Pro Bowl tight ends that create match-up problems downfield. But he has a big transition to make after dominating Northwood, Tiffin, Ferris State and Findlay in 2016.
So coming off a 3-13 season that is expected to be critical for coach John Fox and his staff, Pace has selected a quarterback who he doesn’t expect to play in 2017 and a tight end who likely will spend his rookie season under somebody’s wing — behind Dion Sims or Zach Miller.
“I would disagree with that. I think Adam’s projected to play early,” Pace said. “I like his skill set. We spent a lot of time on that. So just because he’s a small school player — yeah, it’s a big jump, but he has the physical skill set to make that jump and we’re confident in that. We’re excited about what he can add to our team right now.”
Pace drafted Shaheen after trading down nine spots to regain picks he gave up in the trade to draft Trubisky. The Bears traded their second-round pick (36th overall) and seventh-round pick (221st) to Arizona for the Cardinals’ picks in the second (45th), fourth (117th) and sixth (197th) rounds this year and a fourth-round pick in 2018.
In a much different way than Trubisky, the unheralded Shaheen comes to Chicago with some intrigue as a player who can make the Bears great if he pans out. Shaheen dominated Division II competition at Ashland in 2016, with 57 receptions for 867 yards (15.2 avg.) and a Division II record 16 touchdowns.
“When you’re watching a guy at that level, he needs to dominate every game. And he did that,” Pace said. “So I’m not worried about the transition to our level. He’s got the physical skill set to do that.
“For a guy his size, his athleticism jumps out. When you’re watching him on tape, you have to keep looking down and go, ‘Man, this guy’s 6-6 1/2 and 278 pounds and he moves like that.’
The obvious knock on Shaheen is the competition he played against — including Mercyhurst (3-8), Lake Erie (0-11) and Walsh (1-10) in 2016. He did have a huge game against playoff-bound Ferris State (12-2) — seven receptions for 152 yards (21.7 avg.) and one touchdown. And he had 10 receptions for 165 yards (16.5 avg.) and three touchdowns against Tiffin (8-3).
“I’m speechless right now. But I’m going to be read to go to work in the morning,” Shaheen said. “I think [the adjustment to the NFL] is something I’m very capable of. The Bears feel that as well. I’m just excited to get to work and get grinding and who everybody what I can do.”
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82nd annual NFL DRAFT
What: Rounds 4-7.
Where: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia.
When Round time
11 a.m. Sat. Rounds 4-6 5 min.
Sat. Round 7 4 min.
On TV: ESPN, NFL.
Bears’ picks (overall):
Round 1 (2): QB Mitchell Trubisky.
Round 2 (45): TE Adam Shaheen.
Rounds 4 (117, from Bills; 119 from Cardinals),
5 (147), 6 (197 from Cardinals).
THE ADAM SHAHEEN FILE
Position: Tight end.
College: Ashland (Division II).
Ht/Wt: 6-6, 278.
Background: Shaheen played three seasons at Division II Ashland (Ohio) after starting his college career as a basketball player at Pittsburgh-Johnstown. As a junior in 2016, he had 57 receptions for 867 yards (15.2 avg.) and a Division II-record 16 touchdowns. Came out with a year of eligibility remaining.
Strengths: Ideal size for a combo tight end. At the D-II level, Shaheen has shown the ability to play inside as a blocker and outside as a receiver. Good athlete who was a star basketball player at Big Walnut High School — good hands, with ability to run after the catch.
Weaknesses: Didn’t face NFL-caliber competition at a small school, whose 2016 schedule was weak even by D-II standards. However, Shaheen did have seven receptions for 152 yards and a 70-yard touchdown in a victory over Ferris State (12-2). Despite size and strength (24 reps at 225), Shaheen had some unimpressive measureables at the Combine.
The skinny: Little bit of a roll of the dice on a small-school player with unique athleticism for his size and the ability to become a breakout offensive threat if he adjusts to the NFL game. But it likely will take some time.
— Mark Potash