As an eternal optimist, I’ve been willing to give the benefit of the doubt to Shea McClellin since the Bears drafted him with the 19th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Rather than dwell on some of his question marks, I chose to look to his strengths as a reason why he might help a defense succeed. Unfortunately, his strengths — his speed, football intelligence and instincts — got overpowered by his weaknesses — size and strength — while playing along the defensive line. He got swallowed up by bigger offensive linemen and was basically rendered useless.
The Bears are hoping a position switch to linebacker, which will allow him to use those strengths of speed and instincts, can help him turn his short career around.
McClellin has a little bit of experience playing with his hand off the ground, stemming back to his days at Boise State in college. Can his success translate to the NFL at the linebacker position? That’s what most eyes will be watching when the Bears defense takes the field this preseason.
As odd as it may sound, if McClellin has any success at ‘backer, he’s going to have a lot of success.
With his speed, he can afford to take false steps — a la Brian Urlacher — and still be able to make up ground and get in on the play. Slower offensive linemen won’t be able to get their hands on him because he can sidestep them and beat them to the spot. However, if he can’t make the right reads, he’s not likely to have any success.