Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune reports some good news on defensive end Shea McClellin as he writes about how crucial it is for last years draft class to step it up this year:
“The team can get a big boost on both sides of the ball if defensive end Shea McClellin and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery are prepared for bigger roles in their second seasons. McClellin has bulked up some as he has been able to train for football rather than predraft tests such as the 40-yard dash, bench press and agility drills.”
“McClellin was mostly a situational pass rusher who played 34.7 percent of the time in 2012 with 21/2 sacks.”
“McClellin said he has added 5 to 7 pounds and is about 258, meaning he was playing below his listed weight of 260 last season.
“‘I need to take a big step,’ McClellin said. ‘That is what I am planning on doing. … Still trying to get quicker and faster. Working on hands, everything in pass rush.'”
Adam L. Jahns puts it even more bluntly:
“Is he a three-down player?
“‘He’ll get what he earns,’ [defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said.”
Let’s hope he earns a lot of playing time because, despite the perception that there’s depth at the position, they may need a lot more from McClellin than anyone thinks. Corey Wooton had a good year for the Bears last year but I’m still not sold on him as a starter. The Bears are still trying to sign Israel Idonije.
McClellin played really small last year. He’s quick but he was far too easy to push around, especially against the run, to be a regular starter. Physically he looked like a boy amongst men. If he gains a more weight and upper body strength this offseason without losing a lot of quickness, he’ll be much more valuable.
I’m sure general manager Phil Emery was counting on that when he drafted him as it was apparent that both Jeffery and McClellin were projects that were likely to take a year to bloom. That might be something to bear in mind as we approach the draft this year. Emery looks like he might be a lot more likely to take a player he thinks can develop rather than one who he is counting on helping much this year.