The first 18 picks in Thursday night’s first round of the NFL Draft shook out about as well as Bears GM Phil Emery could have hoped, with the only pass-rusher coming off the board being Melvin Ingram to the Chargers at eighteen.
Instead of ends Whitney Mercilus or Chandler Jones, Shea McClellin was Emery’s pick at nineteen overall. A defensive end out of Boise State, McClellin was projected by most to go later on in the first round, but Chicago deemed him worthy of the pick ahead of the other defensive ends on the board. A versatile front-line defender, McClellin will serve at left defensive end according to Emery. Opposite Julius Peppers, McClellin will see plenty of single blockers which hopefully means more sacks from a defensive line that struggled at times in 2011. McClellin didn’t show impressive strength at the Scouting Combine, but he did show off some good speed in the 40 yard dash. A lot of the terms tossed around were “high-motor” and “active,” which would make him seem akin to Jared Allen’s demeanor and play style. The Bears spent considerable time scouting the farm boy McClellin, bringing him in for a private workout and visiting him at Boise State.
After the pick was announced, Phil Emery called Shea “one of the seven” players they were targeting, mentioning his ability as a four down player and his potential impact on special teams. With nearly every defensive end still was available Emery obviously had McClellin high on his draft board. He’s got no character issues whatsoever and there’s no question about his commitment or production. He was fourth in Boise team history with 20.5 sacks in his collegiate career.
McClellin may have been available later in the round, but it doesn’t seem Emery had the option to move. He revealed that he got calls from teams higher up looking to move down, but apparently not teams further down the line.
Some fans are already panning the pick, but I’m not doubting it yet. There were plenty of reasons to like McClellin during the scouting process. Chicago just liked him more than some of the draft “experts.”
That’s it for the Bears in the first round! Check back tomorrow night for more analysis!