The Projecting Starters series has covered most of the defensive positions thus far for the Bears, with little to no surprises. The WCG community thinks that Paea will start over Toeaina, Roach will hold onto his starting spot next to the two Hall of Famers, and Wright/Conte will continue to start despite the addition of Brandon Hardin and the steadiness of Craig Steltz. Now things could get interesting as we look at who will start opposite of Julius Peppers at defensive end.
After serving as a primary backup tackle his first six seasons as a Bear, Israel Idonije has served as the starting end opposite Julius Peppers for the past two, collecting thirteen sacks and four forced fumbles. A solid run stopper, Idonije undeniably benefited from having Peppers opposite him in 2010 - a career high eight sacks - but last season he was not able to replicate that success in the passing game (five sacks). At 31, Idonije has proven he is an effective role player and efficient run defender, but lacks the pass rushing chops the Bears need from the line.
Enter Shea McClellin, first round draft pick out of Boise State, who had twenty-six tackles for loss and sixteen sacks over his final two seasons. Scouted as a solid passing rushing specialist, he may need to add weight and improve his technique shedding blockers to earn major playing time, if not a starting spot. McClellin will likely benefit from going from a multiple-position college player to a streamlined 4-3 professional end, but can he make the jump before week one to unseat the incumbent?