Chicago Bears: What to expect out of Duke Shelley in 2019

Chicago Bears (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

What can the Chicago Bears expect to get out of their sixth-round pick?

With their sixth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears selected Duke Shelley our of Kansas State University. Shelley may not have been on many fans’ radar or linked to the team through many mock drafts. However, by the time it’s all over, he could play a significant role on this team both this season and beyond.

So what can we expect out of Shelley this season, who as of this moment, remains the only unsigned member of the Bears’ draft class?

Shelley played mostly as a boundary corner in college in the pass-happy Big 12, so he’s no stranger to being picked on in the passing game.

However, he stands only 5-foot-9 and weighs only about 180 pounds so it is unlikely he’ll stick there. Instead, the Bears will likely try to love him to the nickelback position as the heir apparent to Buster Skrine.

It’s important to note, however, that the transition is not an easy one. Shelley will have to prove he can make that transition smoothly or his playing will vanish as he doesn’t have the size to play on the outside — at least in theory.

And besides, he was drafted with the intention of dropping him in the slot. Ideally, he’s suited to play in nickel and dime packages and line up over the slot receiver.

Now if he’s able to make that transition in camp, that’s where things could get interesting. Right now the veteran, Sherrick McManis, is the clear backup to Skrine. But if Shelley has the opportunity to supplant McManis is all goes well.

For starters, Shelley has the frame for the position, as well as the speed, running a 4.46 40-yard dash. He’s also really competitive and feisty, or as Ryan Pace describes him “sticky.” In other words, he makes the receiver work for everything he gets.

Moreover, his experience playing against bigger wide receivers on the boundaries in college will serve him well, he could find himself lining up opposite multiple types of receivers as the nickel corner.

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The one thing he’ll surely have to work on is his tackling, where he has a tendency to lunge rather than drive through the ballcarrier.

If he can do that, and show he’s able to make the jump to the corner and adjust to the different technique required to play that position, he could see increased playing time as the primary backup to Skrine. But first thing’s first, the Bears will need to get him signed and in training camp.