After not taking a young linebacker or rush linebacker in the draft, it's a common question to ask where the pass rush and improvement in linebacker play will come from in 2015, as the Bears transition to Vic Fangio's 3-4 base defense.
In addition to signing Pernell McPhee, Mason Foster and Sam Acho, it's been clear the Bears would look for improvement from the linebackers and pass rushers already on the roster, including Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen, Willie Young, and fourth-year linebacker Shea McClellin. Fangio specifically highlighted McClellin.
"When he came out of college, he was a versatile guy and played a lot of different positions," Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Saturday. "Maybe now it's time to lock him down to an inside linebacker spot. If it doesn't work out, maybe we move him back outside, but I want to see him at inside linebacker for a while."
"Well, he's got good size and good athletic ability," Fangio said. "He has been hindered, I think, by being moved around - to no fault of anybody; that's just the way it goes. I think he has a chance to be a good inside linebacker. We're going to give him a full opportunity here and a full chance to learn the position so we can evaluate him and see if that's a good spot for him."
McClellin hasn't lived up to his first-round pass-rusher billing in his last three years, but in a contract year, it remains to be seen if the Bears can unlock some of his pass-rushing ability in some fashion.
Fangio also had some remarks on Jared Allen as he slides into an outside linebacker role:
"He did well in the minicamp we had here, and I think he was excited about it," Fangio said Saturday at rookie minicamp. "Like I told him, I think he can have a rebirth to his career here playing a little bit of a new position. But in the NFL today, you play more nickel than you actually play base. For some teams they play nickel 65 to 75 percent of the time. He'll be playing his normal position then. So it's not as drastic of a change as you might think."
With all the bodies making the switch from 4-3 end to 3-4 linebacker, Fangio's hoping to find some serviceable players.
"It's been good," Fangio said. "Two of them [Lamarr Houston and Willie Young] aren't practicing so we haven't seen them at all, but I was pleased with the way the guys have come along and they've taken to the teaching that we've given them in the meetings and were able to bring it on to the field. I think we've got some good choices there and I think we'll come up with three, four or five good outside 'backers, however many we keep and we'll go from there. I think it's OK right now."
What are your thoughts on the Bears' linebacking situation?