When the Bears selected Defensive End Shea McClellin in the 2012 draft with the 19th pick, many experts were puzzled with the selection. He was not the typical Lovie Smith defensive lineman. McClellin was a light, quick, outside pass rusher, a complete opposite of the big bodied, collapse the pocket and stop the run, type of defensive lineman that Coach Smith loved. There was much speculation as to the direction the Bears were going, and as to who had complete control of the direction of the franchise, was it Lovie Smith or new GM Phil Emrey?
McClellin had a difficult rookie season, that was riddled with various injuries such as a concussion and sprained MCL. Although he was drafted and spent his first 2 seasons as a defensive end, speculation was that he would be moved to linebacker, and that he was drafted as a possible replacement for Brian Urlacher. McCellin was always known for his great speed on the field and uncompromising work ethic, but many in the league worried about his size as a detriment in getting to the quarterback. McClellin quickly gained favor with the Chicago faithful when he recorded his first career sack against the hated Packers and Aaron Rodgers, and last season he recorded the sack heard throughout the NFC North, when on a Monday night he sacked Rodgers in the first quarter and broke his collarbone, putting the quarterback out for the next 8 games. Unfortunately, that was the biggest highlight in what was a disappointing season. With many questioning if McClellin was a bust or not, the Bears management made the decision to move him to a linebacker slot. The move was praised and ridiculed at the same time. With supporters saying that allowing McClellin to keep his hand off the ground and create some space between himself and offensive linemen, he would be able to use his biggest asset, his pure speed to get to the quarterback or running back before the linemen could get in position. Opponents of the move and more of the actual drafting of him, said that the Bears are trying to cover themselves and keep from having their number 1 pick from being a waste.
Only time will tell if the position change will help or hinder Shea, but reports are that he is embracing the change and the opportunity. He has been in California for the past 12 weeks working with trainer Scott Prohaska. “McClellin dropped 11 pounds and eight percent body fat in the offseason in anticipation of his much-anticipated move from defensive end to linebacker. McClellin currently checks-in at 252 pounds with 10 percent body fat, while running a 4.5 40 yard dash and bench pressing 365 pounds.” (ESPNChicago.com)
One thing that has never been questioned was Shea’s work ethic. As Bears fans, we all hope that this transformation and hard work will equal results on the playing field.