Shea McClellin; What have we learned so far?

Jul 26, 2012; Bourbonnais, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Shea McClellin walks to the practice field during the opening day of training camp at Olivet Nazarene University. Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-US PRESSWIRE

Since Thursday, Bears fans have been clinging to Twitter, the Bears Den on this very site, or any other medium in which they can grab up some savory nuggets of information leaking about the team's training camp practices. A lot of the focus has been on hot-shot rookies Shea McClellin and Alshon Jeffery. How's the transition going? Which group are they running with (1s, 2s?). After practice yesterday, the wrap-up thread was taken over with McClellin talk. I just wanted to share my two cents on him and maybe bring some light to what has become, early in camp anyway, a big debatable topic.

We're 10 days away from the Bears' first preseason game (YES!) and so far the Bears have conducted four public practices, two of which were padded. So how much could we have learned about the rookie DE from Boise State? You'd think not much, but just look back at the recap thread; people are already doubting the pick.

By all accounts McClellin has been up and down. The beat writers seem to be preaching patience with the fans on Twitter, which is correct, because the guy's only a rookie and this early in the game, he should be expected to be inconsistent.

It takes different players a different amount of time to make the adjustment to the pro level. This is literally two contact practices into the season and people are shouting that this is a Lovie pick (while somehow defending Emery by saying "well he got us a no. 1 receiver" but that's a whole other thing). Let's look at some of the tweets from yesterday's practice:

Michael C. Wright @mikecwright

Shea McClellin up and down on inside run drill. Can’t say he’s been great. Can’t say he’s been bad. Work in progress.

Jeff Dickerson ‏@ESPNChiBears

Rookie OT James Brown stopped Shea McClellin cold on 2 straight 1-on-1 pass rushing drills. #Bears.

Michael C. Wright ‏@mikecwright

J-Webb just pushed Shea down to ground there. Next play Shea gets by to make Campbell rush throw.

Zach Zaidman ‏@ZachZaidman
James Brown just pancaked Shea McClellin. Players were oohing and aahing.

If you could sack the QB, Shea McClellin would have just taken down Matt Blanchard. He beat 5th string TE to get to QB.

All right, so there's some good and some bad there and yes, some more bad, but that isn't too telling at this point. "Can't say he's bad, can't say he's great" Wright can't say that because it's too soon to say!

The fact is, McClellin is taking a huge undertaking. It can take literally years to learn all the subtle techniques and perfect yourself at any trenches position in the NFL; so much of it is technique; What's the foot work for a successful bull rush? How do you set up an OT over the course of two or three plays for a surprise move later? What can you do to counteract this or that hit from an opponent? How do you attack a double team? These things take time. You can survive on your athleticism for a bit, but sooner or later you need to refine your technique (look at Mark Anderson; 12 rookie sacks, then nothing, now he's improved with NE because of technique).

The biggest thing for me when looking at a rookie who may be struggling is, how does he react?

From Zaidman:

Shea McClellin: "Today, my pass rushing wasn't very good so I was kind of disappointed."

Shea McClellin: "I'm pretty hard on myself so I've got to do better than that."

And from Michael C. Wright:

Shea McClellin was disappointed in the way he performed today. Sounded frustrated.

He should be frustrated, and that's a good thing! To me, it's all about how he responds from this. With the day off today, I want to see how he practices tomorrow. Did he take today to look at the tape, talk with coaches, work on technique, etc.? Did he use the off day to get better? I want to see how he responds to the adversity and how he bounces back after a bad showing. That will be more telling than him struggling against an undrafted tackle. If he can keep his back-to-back bad practices to a minimum then that's a good thing. Consistency is elusive for some rookies, so let's see if he can bounce back tomorrow.

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