Much too early for concerns about McClellin struggles

July 30th, 2012 - 5:51 pm
First-round pick Shea McClellin has some learning to do and doesn't have the natural ability to fall back upon that some other athletes do.

First-round pick Shea McClellin has some learning to do and doesn’t have the natural ability to fall back upon that some other athletes do.

From the files of “desperately seeking an early training camp story,” word out of Bourbonnais is that first round draft pick Shea McClellin has had his share of trouble. The defensive end from Boise State, who is playing at a weight of 255 pounds so as not to lose his speed and agility, has had some trouble disengaging from offensive linemen in training camp practices as well as finding his way to the quarterback.

Of course, a team’s first round draft pick will command a lot of attention and be scrutinized early and often, but only a few practices into his first NFL training camp is a bit early for concern. McClellin has to adjust to the speed of the next level and he has a thing or two to learn about moves and countermoves against players who are a bit better than what he saw at the collegiate level.

These kinds of skills take some time to develop and most rookies have to rely on natural ability alone. Unfortunately for McClellin, God-given talent is not one of his strengths. He has good speed, but he was not blessed with the freakish skills of, say, Julius Peppers. Hence, we will not see McClellin flash first-round talent until at least the preseason, when he goes up against other players of his talent level who are also learning the NFL game and are fighting for their NFL careers.

McClellin is a smart player with good football instincts, so he may pick up the nuances of the game quicker than most. But I would not expect him to start this year and, unless the Bears use him creatively in pass rushing situations, he probably won’t pad his stats either.

But despite getting pancaked by various Bears offensive linemen, McClellin has show flashes of why the Bears felt strongly in him on draft day, and there is still ample time for him to prepare to make an impact as a situational player on opening day.