McClellin Faces Make-or-Break Year for Chicago Bears

The 2012 NFL Draft class was filled with stars.

Everyone knows about Andrew Luck, the first overall pick to the Indianapolis Colts, and Robert Griffin III, who led a small renaissance in Washington during his rookie season. Luke Kuechly, Dontari Poe and Fletcher Cox were also defensive studs that also came from that class.

However, just like every draft class, there were a fair share of busts.

The headliners include former Cleveland Brown and Indianapolis Colt running back Trent Richardson, and wide receiver Justin Blackmon, whom Jaguars GM David Caldwell recently said will likely never play in the NFL again.

Mixed in with the rest are quality contributors, like wideout Kendall Wright and quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and players who are on their last legs in the league.

One player, in particular, is Chicago Bears linebacker Shea McClellin.

Picked 19th overall in 2012 as a defensive end, McClellin is really only known for breaking Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone during a Bears victory over Green Bay during the 2013 season. In his career, the Boise State product has managed 7.5 sacks and 80 tackles. Take into account that for the majority of those years he played with future Hall of Famer Julius Peppers on the opposite side of him.

It could be argued that McClellin was being played out of position for most of his young career.

At 6’3″ and approximately 250 pounds, it seems as if his best fit would be as a pass rushing outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. However, for the better part of his short career, the Bears have used him as a 4-3 defensive end. After switching to linebacker last season, the versatile defender managed a career high in tackles, although it was a meager 36 stops.

With the Bears bringing in Mason Foster from Tampa, Jon Bostic entering his third season, and former undrafted free agent Christian Jones coming off a productive rookie year, will McClellin get significant burn at linebacker this season?

On the outside, free agent acquisition Pernell McPhee has one linebacker spot locked up while former defensive ends Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, David Bass and Willie Young are competing for the other spot. Meanwhile, Mason Foster figures to have a hold on one inside linebacker spot after an unheralded four years in Tampa Bay.

McClellin has better size than Bostic to be dropping in coverage but Bostic has shown he is aggressive against the run, something that McClellin has struggled to do. Christian Jones on the other hand has shown ability to drop into coverage and rush the passer which is evident in his 69 tackle, two sack rookie season.

The Bears will likely keep three inside backers. Mason Foster is all but penciled into the lineup. Christian Jones has shown promise and versatility, which is more than can be said about McClellin. At this point, it’s a numbers game.

Will it be Jon Bostic or Shea McClellin making the final roster?


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