When Shea McClellin was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, many fans envisioned McClellin being the heir apparent to Brian Urlacher at the middle linebacker position. Those visions quickly faded away as the Bears dispelled any notion that McClellin will play linebacker in the NFL. A position that McClellin played successfully at Boise State.
After two failed seasons at the defensive end position, the Bears have decided that McClellin is not a defensive end. The Bears announced on Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine that McClellin will now be recognized as a linebacker.
“This is what we envision: Shea is going to move to linebacker, but Shea will be used in multiple roles, wherever his skills will take him,” Emery said. “He is a perfect candidate to be on the field all downs in some capacity, whether that is blitzing, rushing, playing against the run in run personnel. But he is going to have to compete for his job. Competition right now is Jon Bostic, Khaseem Greene, and it’s Shea. Obviously, we feel that Lance Briggs is our weak[side] starter. If we add back a D.J. Williams or another player, that player will be involved in that competitive mix. It’s best person wins those two spots. We’re excited about the competition.” -Phil Emery, ESPN Chicago
The plan is for McClellin and second-year linebacker Jon Bostic to compete at both the middle linebacker position and strong-side linebacker position. Though, that may be a questionable decision by the Bears.
While playing the middle linebacker position last season for the Bears, Bostic struggled in shedding off offensive blockers. McClellin was plagued by the same issue last season as well while playing from the defensive end position. In fact, McClellin struggled the most when trying to shed a tight end. A move to the linebacker position won’t eliminate those problems for the third-year player.
At this point, it seems likely that Bostic will be the starting sam linebacker while McClellin will be used strategically. With Lance Briggs returning as the starting will linebacker, it would ideal for the team to bring back D.J. Williams as the starting mike linebacker.
With McClellin no longer a defensive end, expect the Bears to target the position in free agency and the upcoming draft.