We're always looking for ways to give better insight into the Chicago Bears draft picks, and just like we did last year, we reached out to the sites that covered these players in college. Earlier this week we talked with Track 'Em Tigers about undrafted free agent offensive tackle A.J. Greene. And if you read through the comments (and didn't just skim...), you'd have noticed we promised getting into the higher profile rookies the Bears acquired at a later date. That date is today and we'll start off by looking at #19 overall.
We had the chance to pick the brain of Kevan Lee, Chairman of the Boise State SBNation site, One Bronco Nation Under God, about Chicago Bears number one draft choice Shea McClellin.
Windy City Gridiron - A lot has been made in Chicago about McClellin not being a true hand in the dirt defensive end. How often did he drop down from his linebacker position and rush the passer from a 3 or 4 point stance?
One Bronco Nation Under God - His position with the Broncos was defensive end. He played probably 70 percent of his snaps in that position. Boise State would occasionally move to a 3-3-5 or 3-4 defensive look in which case McClellin would stand up, but otherwise, he was a standard DE with the skills of an LB.
I think a lot of Boise State fans had tempered expectations of him in the pros because they never pictured him as anything other than an end. But realizing how he would fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker or an edge rusher at the next level made a lot of sense. He just doesn't fit the traditional defensive end mold.
WCG - Bears GM Phil Emery described McClellin as 'country strong', and seeing as how he only knocked out a so-so 19 bench reps at the combine, we were wondering if he was regularly overpowered at Boise State?
OBNUG - Being overpowered was never an issue with the Broncos, but that could have been a result of his playing WAC and Mountain West levels of talent. In the games against elite opponents like Virginia Tech and Georgia, McClellin made an impact with a relentless pass rush and speed and smarts off the edge. His strength may be an issue at the next level against behemoth offensive linemen, but he can make up for it with his other skills and intangibles.
WCG - There was some conflicting reports about his injury history in college, in particular with concussions. Do you recall concussions or any other nagging injuries surrounding his career at Boise State?
OBNUG - I vaguely remember one of his concussions (Boise State is very tight-lipped about injuries). He left the game and did not return, which didn't seem like a big deal since the Broncos were blowing out Colorado Directional something or other. He was back the next week. Durability was never a concern for him.
WCG - Character is always a big sticking point for any NFL team, can you talk about the kind of person the Bears are getting in Shea McClellin? (work ethic, leadership, passion, etc...)
OBNUG - He is a quiet leader - someone who leads by example with his play on the football field. Apparently, he has a little Jekyll-and-Hyde or Clark Kent-and-Superman to him where he'll be mild-mannered and reserved off the field and then flip the switch when he steps onto the field.
It has been neat to watch him in media interviews since being drafted. He seems to be more comfortable and affable than he was at Boise State.
I think you can tell his work ethic by the way that he made it to the pros. He attended a small high school whose team played in the third or fourth level of high school sports in Idaho. He came in right away and contributed with the Broncos. He went from a respectable starter to a defensive MVP. Everything good he has received in his football journey he has earned. There have been no free lunches.
WCG - In your opinion can he thrive at defensive end as a professional?
OBNUG - Ideally, he would have been better served going to a 3-4 team to play outside linebacker or edge rusher, but that doesn't mean that his talents will go to waste in Chicago. Dwight Freeney's size and strength didn't prevent him from becoming an All-Pro defensive end for the Colts, so I think it would be premature to put any type of limit on McClellin. The Bears got themselves a great player with great potential.
Thanks again to Kevan for taking some time and providing some incredible analysis...