When the Bears drafted Shea McClellin with the 19th pick of the first round, the common response was that they had gotten themselves a good defensive football player.
No one was quite sure where McClellin would wind up in the team’s defensive alignment, though. He played all over the front seven at Boise State and it wasn’t exactly clear what role the Bears saw him playing in their defense. They cleared that up after the draft by announcing that they plan to play McClellin at left defensive end opposite Julius Peppers. General Manager Phil Emery explained his decision.
“Say an offensive tackle was trying to reach to my outside,” Emery said, via ESPNChicago.com. “He instantly has a feel for feeling that block, getting his body in the right leverage position and working off that block to the ball; taking as natural and as quick a path from blocker to ball as possible. Some people possess that at a high level. Some don’t. They get stuck on blocks.”
Emery knew a lot about McClellin’s ability to be a 3-4 outside linebacker because Emery scouted him for the Chiefs before he came to Chicago. Emery said that it helped the Bears that he played that role in the Senior Bowl because it helped disguise the pass rushing skills they liked from him as a defensive end.
Not everyone expects him to stay at that spot, though. Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times suggests that McClellin could replace Brian Urlacher at middle linebacker at some point down the road.