The Bears drafted linebacker Shea McClellan out of Boise State with the 19th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft to be a versatile pass rusher on the edge. The Bears saw him as a lineman that could do some work with his hand off the ground occasionally.
Unfortunately, this strategy failed for both McClellan and the team.
Through his first two seasons, McClellan managed 6.5 sacks and 21 total tackles. Although he wasn’t expected to lineup on the front to rush passer in college, the Bears hoped his athleticism would allow him to succeed on the defensive line.
But he didn’t see the same competition he faced in the Mountain West Conference. McClellan’s counterparts on the offensive line are also professional athletes — most having played on the offensive line their entire football careers.
Last season, the Bears switched him to a linebacker role and started to see some improvements from the former Bronco. Former Bears great Brian Urlacher said McClellan should have always been at linebacker as pro because he reminds Urlacher of himself.
In Urlacher’s first two seasons, he accumulated 14 sacks, 186 tackles and five interceptions. He also won rookie of the year in 2000. For his career, Urlacher has been selected to eight Pro Bowls, leads the Bears in sacks for a linebacker (41.5), and has the most tackles recorded in team history (1,691).
McClellin may have plenty of untapped potential, but expecting him to be anything like Urlacher is irrational. Nothing he has done professionally suggest that he’ll be a premier defender, but as a former first round selection, the Bears need him to transform into one.
Even if McClellin doesn’t put up the type of numbers B-Dub has, they both look good in space when pursuing tackles.
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