As a first-round pick in the NFL draft, no matter if it’s the first choice or the 31st selection, the player drafted is expected to become a starter and quality player at his position in the league. With the 19th pick in the first round of the 2012 draft, the Chicago Bears and GM Phil Emery selected Shea McClellin, out of Boise State University.
During his college career, McClellin, who played both defensive end and linebacker, had 130 tackles, 20.5 sacks, four interceptions and two touchdowns. Due to that level of on the field production, the Bears organization felt comfortable taking him with their first pick. Yet, as a rookie, McClellin’s season totals were a bit pedestrian with only 14 tackles, 2.5 sacks and zero interceptions on the season.
Now for the 2012 Bears, it was an open secret that the offensive line was the weak link. All the same, the obvious strength of the team was on the defensive side of the ball, in particular the defensive ends. With the likes of Julius Peppers, Corey Wootton and Israel Idonije on the roster, McClellin had an uphill battle in order to wrestle a starting spot and playing time away from those individuals. As a result of Peppers, Wootton and Idonije’s high on the field performances, the best McClellin could muster was in becoming one of the defensive line’s primary rotational players.
Entering his second year in the league with the Bears not retaining the services of Idonije, McClellin has possibly risen up the team’s depth chart. At this point, despite the organization adding defensive ends Aston Whiteside, Cheta Ozougwu, Kyle Moore and Turk McBride to the roster, McClellin’s true rival and competition to play opposite Peppers is Wootton.
Truth be told, the Bears have an embarrassment of riches on the defensive line as a whole. That should come as no surprise as the organization has always prided themselves on running the football and making life miserable for opposing offenses. If McClellin, the second highest draft pick in Boise State history, wants to move into the starting lineup he’s going to have to beat out another up and coming defensive end on the roster. Which is going to make the Bears defense just as formidable as previous Bears defenses as a result.