Chicago Sun-Times

Lovie: Shea McClellin will 'hold his own' vs. run in NFL

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The first question for Lovie Smith after the Bears completed their NFL draft Saturday came from Lovie Smith.

''Where will [Shea McClellin] play? He's not a linebacker -- let's start with that,'' Smith said, answering his own question in his opening remarks. ''He'll have his hand down in a three-point stance from Day One and he'll be in the defensive line room. We can't wait to get started with him. We think he can be an excellent pass rusher in the league. He's excited about competing with the other defensive ends.''

Lovie's attitude about McClellin in response to questions about the Boise State defensive end gave me more uncertainty and doubt about the Bears' draft than anything else. The advantage of a player like McClellin is his versatility -- Boise State got the most out of him by moving him around.

With his athleticism and motor at 6-3 and 260 pounds, McClellin theoretically can add a dimension of unpredictability to the Bears' defense it currently does not have. If McClellin is as good as advertised, he'd be one more player an opposing quarterback has to find before the snap. Besides Julius Peppers.

That is supposed to be an advantage. But Lovie seems to consider any potential tweaking of his beloved defense as an insult instead of an improvement that might give Aaron Rodgers and the Packers a wrinkle they haven't seen 100 times before. At least that's how it came across when he was asked if McClellin's versatility would allow the Bears to do some things they haven't done before.

''We feel like we've done that with our defense everyday we've been here to try and maximize every guy's potential in our scheme,'' Smith said. ''We're not going to start changing up things. Shea is the ideal guy to fit into what we do.

''We feel like we have a role with him there. We've had defensive ends that have had pretty good seasons playing our defense. We're not changing to the 3-4 or any of that stuff people talk about. He'll be a 4-3 end.''

It's hard to argue with Lovie Smith's credentials as a defense coach -- though his success with the Bears is inherently linked to Brian Urlacher (the Bears have been in the top half of the NFL in points allowed in each of Smith's eight seasons -- except 2009, when Urlacher missed the final 15 games and they were 21st). But he would seem to be selling his defense short if he doesn't at least consider the possibilities with McClellin.

Some people think he might have to, because they can't see McClellin ''setting the edge'' against the run at 260 pounds. Smith refuted that notion with typical disdain. He even made a good point -- but couldn't resist the condescending, argumentative tone that indicated the question had no merit.

''First off you have to explain ... how a 6-3 260-pound guy is going to have trouble doing that,'' he said. ''Weight is one of the most overrated things there is when you talk about football players. You talk about strength and athletic ability more than that.

''Were not a 2-gap, hit-guys-right-down-the-middle [defense]. We don't play that style of ball. We're a get-on-the-edge, maintain-your-gap [defense]. A defensive end that is 6-3, 260 pounds can do that easily. So that is no concern at all, Shea, believe me, will be able to hold his own with the big boys that he is playing with.''

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Oh is that why Shea averaged 35 snaps a game in college last year, because he is an every down player.

''First off you have to explain ... how a 6-3 260-pound guy is going to have trouble doing that,'' he said. ''Weight is one of the most overrated things there is when you talk about football players. You talk about strength and athletic ability more than that.

''Were not a 2-gap, hit-guys-right-down-the-middle [defense]. We don't play that style of ball. We're a get-on-the-edge, maintain-your-gap [defense]. A defensive end that is 6-3, 260 pounds can do that easily. So that is no concern at all, Shea, believe me, will be able to hold his own with the big boys that he is playing with.''

Yeah that worked out well for Anderson, then you went and got yourself a 6'7 290 pound DE and lined him up with a 6'7 280 pound DE. Cause size does not matter to him. That's why we have all those 260 pound offensive linemen running around the league. Cause size means nothing.

I'll tell you what I think. I think Emery likes to copy Pats, his draft would indicate that. KC also liked to copy the Pats. I think the Pats know this and I think they baited him and set him up. I think they liked McClellin as a second round pick or high third round pick. In fact the BSU news paper seemed to think this as well. They thought he was a second round pick. Boise D-Line are not really a trend in the nfl. DB maybe, O-Line possibly, but D-Line? Not a great reputation. Teams like to start lots of rumors try to get other GM's to bite. A week before the draft this kid suddenly becomes a hot prospect and a lot of rumors are flying that the Pats will take him. They love him, and Emery loves what the Pats love.

Pats could of jumped earlier, they showed they were willing to trade up, twice. If they really loved this kid they didn't show it. I know Jones a lot, judginfg from all the reports from about 3 weeks ago. They seemed to jump on him real quick.

I think the Pats gambled a little, I thinkk they put some bait out there for some of the copy cat teams and GM's, and I think it paid off. I think the Pats would have liked him in the second or third round where he belonged. What I know about Jones is that while fans did not know about him, scouts have loved him for a long time. McClellin? They have liked him for a little while. Draft is a gamble and lots of teams bluff and spread false rumors. 3 Days before the draft this kid suddenly catches fire. Do you know who most of the Mocks had NE taking in the first round? Shea McClellin, a week or so before that, almost none of them. Boy he sure got hot to NE quick.

Bears can say whatever they want, NE bluffed the Bears bit and NE got Jones on the river.

The other probably more likely case is that NE and Jones had become a popular rumor a couple weeks ago. It's one of the big reason everyone started talking about that kid. NE had the Packers sitting behind them and they know they have some copy cats floating around the league. Texans and Packers needed a pass rusher. So they started a rumor that they loved McClellin to try and put some distance between them and Jones just incase jones fell far enough. I think they liked McClellin in the second, but loved Jones in the first.

McClellin suddenly become a real popular pick for NE and all these mocks who follow the rumors mocked him to NE right before the draft. The Pats may have even tried to move in front of the Bears and Chargers with the Bangles but with Ingram on the board the Bangles probably were charging an arm and a leg.

Then it happened Emery who loves everything NE does and copies them, just look at his picks. Well he Bit on McClellin and NE jumped in front of the Texans for Jones. I think Emery bit on the rumor. His draft indicates he likes to copy NE, there is a clear pattern.

Now Lovie wants to pull a Wanny. Yeah Wanny thought that about John Thierry, insisted he was an End. He was wrong. He got all stubborn about it too, just like a certain head coach is getting. That always works out well.

I think they had an eye on Shea for awhile mostly because NE was looking at him. Which they probably saw at the Senior Bowl. Emery scouted the year before with KC, KC likes to copy the pats, Emery brought that with him and made sure he got that he got that NE pick. Although I doubt NE wanted him to play end at least not in a base package or on first down. He sure seems like a second or third round pick for NE.

Hahaha! Somebody has a complex...

Well, the NE draft copycat comments aside (which may be the case), I think McLellin probably deserves the benefit of the doubt in term's of Lovie's comments on size. Yes, Peppers and Izzy are 275+, but Ogunleye played at 260, and Alex Brown was 6'3" 260, so there are certainly good precendents for a player of McLellin's size playig the run well in Smith's scheme, Mark Anderson aside. Watching some tape of McLellin vs. Georgia shows a number of examples of McLellin playing at RDE and LDE in a 3-pt, and while he certaily doesn't get there every time, he is a ball-seeking/tackle seeking machine, one who seems to fit the Bears scheme pretty well. I agree he was drafted a little earlier than he should have been, but he could turn out to be a good pick.

No he really does not fit the scheme, weight aside cause guys do play lighter, but right now he is a bloated 255 rather than his playing weight of 245. But that is not the problem with his size, he is built like an LB and has an LB's frame. Not an ends frame, he is not heavy lower body, he does not have great leg drive.

Let me give you the Break down on this kid When it comes to playing end.

He played 35 snaps a game. His words, so he was well rested.

He played 80/20 according to a Bears scout. 80 percent of his snaps at LB and 20 percent at end. So about 6-7 plays a game at end. When he did play end it was usually in the nickel sub-package. When he played in the Base 4-3 on first down it was usually on first and long after a penalty so they were rushing the passer. So maybe for his career he has 30 snaps in the base defense at end. That was in a 2 gap scheme also. Not close to enough film to justify him as starting 4 down end. Which Lovie claims. Zero snaps in a one gap scheme. He will have to learn how to run Tex stunts and get the timing down.

Now I know Lovie wants this get to get after the QB and he is not that concerned with how he plays the run. But he is not thinking again. Because it's not his call. You put this kid out their on first down and teams will run at him. Anderson had the same problem, he could get after the passer, so Lovie tried to make him an every down player. That was a disaster and every team in the league ran at him.

On first down he is not going to push a 320 pound OT backwards, remember he has to mantain his gap. He won't just be rushing the passer he is not going to get a running start like he did in college coming from the outside.

Then you have that 35 snaps a game, well know it's 60 snaps a game against much better players and he is on the line. Not blitzing, not coming unblocked, but battling a OT, and OG all day. 320 pounds leaning on him for a season. Power back slamming into him instead of him making tackles on pursuit angles.

I hear names like Mathis and I think yeah he can get after a QB, but how good has the Colts defense been? Do you remember what happened when Anderson was a starter? What was wrong with that defense? Teams could run at Anderson and they did, gave up about 2000 yards, a 4.3 against and 17 rushing TD's. They gave up 122 yards a game rushing. They want to play him next to Melton who is no good against the run either with a papper thin DT rotation.

As for the Mathis comparison, Mathis was a project, he didn't start his first year, and was only a specialist his second and third years, that is why he was a 5th round pick. He didn't actually start as an every down player until his 4th year in the league. And you know what happend? His numbers went down.

So is that what Chicago wants? The colts defense? I would advise against it.

Creighton, you could be right and you certainly have done some analysis on it, but you may be overthinking it a bit. Emery noted his strength, athletic ability, his ability to bend and get good pad level, and perhaps more importantly, his quickness and instincts to get off blocks. You can notice this when you watch the film. Sure, not every OT he played against was top-flight or 320, but he displays a solid ability to use leverage to get around and through blocks with mobile hips and good arm work. That being said, I agree that he's not likely to be an every down player, and I don't think he needs to be to be successful.

As for his weight, he never played at 245. His roster weight is listed in every year as at least 254, and his soph year it was 262. Likely he'll add 5 more once the Bears get him in the weight room.

I watched him play that VT game, he had some decent numbers on papper. He got credit for a coverage sack, it took him like 6 seconds to get to the QB. His other sack was less impressive as another player made the play, I believe it was 20 and he just cleaned up and he was late getting there. Aside from that, i watched every snap he played at end in that game, and VT ran right at him and right over him. On the first TD of the game for VT the TE tossed him aside like a rag doll, on there second TD he never maintained contain, he let the QB run right past him after he left a giant gaping hole because the OT rode him wide, they would of had a sack, and the pressure was from the blind side, he was playing strong side. In fact through most of the game the OT for VT handled him and his speed rather easily, so did their TE.

Teams always do a lot of checking on their players Phil, yet they are lucky if they are right about 33 percent of the time. Those are the experts.

I am more than willing to give the kid the benifit of the doubt, but I still don't think the pick makes sense. I have seen him make some good plays in games, but all of them were hussle plays none of them were him dominating anybody. And every time I watched him all I could think of was Brian Urlacher, granted a poor mans version of him, but that is what I saw. He plays just like Brian did when they tried him at end. He plays his best when he is in space and has nobody on him and can use his speed to run down ball carriers. I can see why Sean made the comparison with him and Brian.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on April 29, 2012 11:37 AM.

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