Shea McClellin, the Chicago Bears first-round draft pick from 2012 has made a position change heading into the 2014-15 NFL season. McClellin was formerly a defensive end but has moved to strong-side linebacker under second-year defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
McClellin looked lost at the beginning of training camp. He looked lost in the Bears’ first preseason game. But something may have “clicked” for the third-year Boise State product in Chicago’s second preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
On one particular play, McClellin looked like he finally matched his quality athleticism with quality football instincts, a must-have at the strong-side position. His struggles had mostly come in coverage earlier in the preseason, but on this play, McClellin looked like the real deal. He quickly flipped his hips and turned to cover Jacksonville wide receiver Mike Brown late in the first half of last Thursday’s game. He was in the right place, at the right time, and would’ve had an excellent highlight play had it not been for Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles’ perfect pass.
Sure, as the saying goes, being close only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades, but in this case, close is a huge improvement. McClellin went from missing four tackles against the Philadelphea Eagles in the first exhibition game to making four tackles against the Jaguars, including a tackle for loss. His obvious mental errors were not seen against Jacksonville as they were in the week prior. As with any position change, McClellin needs time to adjust. He deserves a few more weeks of patience. Head coach Marc Trestman and Tucker both rave about the linebacker’s work ethic and practice habits, which lead me to believe that his improvement will only continue.
McClellin is definitely a player to watch in Friday’s tilt with the Seattle Seahawks. The defending champs have an explosive, versatile offensive scheme that will surely test McClellin’s instincts and wherewithal. If nothing else, McClellin can be a weapon on zone blitz opportunities, but I do expect him to continually develop into something more.