That’s the question I’ve been asking around lately. I’ve asked friends, relatives, neighbors and strangers. “So whattya think of him,” I’d say to the produce guy while picking out lemons (potential for irony not lost on me), or to the mechanic while waiting for an oil change. The variety of answers I received has not been unusual, especially since we’re here and Shea McClellan came from all the way over there (Boise St.) and he’s – gasp – a defensive player.
“I cannot believe this! I am not happy! We totally reached,” said a fellow Bears-fanatic co-worker of mine. I hadn’t felt this way, so obviously, I had to back go and check this guy out. McClellin was a three-year starter in college, where he had 130 tackles, 33 tackles-for-loss, 20.5 sacks, 5 forced fumble along with 2 fumble recoveries, and 4 interceptions. Sounds pretty solid to me, and also to Todd McShay, college football guru at ESPN, who had him at #19 on his draft board, exactly where the Bears selected him. Bears GM Phil Emery has admitted that several teams contacted him looking to move up or down from their draft positions, but Emery knew who he wanted and made the smart decision to stay put at #19. If Todd McShay thinks he was drafted in the right spot, I’m not gonna argue.
“I dunno. Who the hell is he?” said my neighbor when I asked for his thoughts on our 1st-round draft pick. Well, according to Pro Football weekly, Shea McClellin is a “lean, smooth-muscled, active, instinctive, college defensive end with a relentless temperament.” They also described him as a “functional, character football player who plays better than he tests.” Aside from the defensive end part, they could very well be describing one Mr. Brian Urlacher with those words, so on paper it seems like he could definitely fit in and contribute immediately.
“You never really know until they start playing,” said my mechanic, who not surprisingly, has the same opinion as I do. High hopes, college stats, draft experts – none can accurately tell the story until training camp, pre-season and most importantly, the regular season begin. But Phil Emery told the media that he is “very excited” about landing McClellin and adds “in terms of his ability to get from blocker to his target, he was the best in the draft at his position… he’s a very dynamic player that way. He’s a baller.” And since I’ve so far been salivating at the quantity and quality of Emery’s free-agent signings and trades, I’m apt to listen if he’s this high on a particular player. The prospect of a stepped-up pass rush has me excited as well.
And the best news is that he signed his contract. It’s four-year deal with an option for a fifth, so if he’s at the very least a reliable starter, the Bears will have him locked up at a bargain rate. He’ll be available for all the off-season mini-camps and training camp and should be good to go come September. Next year at this time, I’d love to go back and ask everyone again, “What do you think of Shea McClellin,” and have a unanimous answer. “I love him!”