The Chicago Bears always seem to be stacked at defensive end, so it was quite surprising when they made Shae McClellin their first round pick in the 2012 draft. A year later, and McClellin is hoping to burst down the door and become a starter in his second NFL season, although he might not be doing enough to get the job.
The Bears’ projected starters at defensive end are Julius Peppers, who led the team with 11.5 sacks last season playing as the right defensive end, and Corey Wooton, recording 7 sacks last season and being part of the reason Israel Idonije hasn’t been re-signed, and is still looking for a team as a free agent.
Another reason is the rise of McClellin, although he didn’t get too many chances during his rookie season, finishing with 2.5 sacks and 14 tackles. The Bears picked him in the first round as someone they see emerging in a few years as a threat coming off the edge, and for now his competition is with Wooton for the left defensive end position, while Peppers, despite his age, is looking a lot more solid at the moment.
According to the Chicago Tribune, McClellin hasn’t done anything special in the OTAs to merit a starting job for the Bears, but it’s quite difficult for anyone to distinguish himself this early in the preseason, with training camp being a much better opportunity to try and impress the coaching staff.
McClellin has his work cut out for him, because the coaching staff for the Bears has been significantly altered over the last 12 months after the firing of Lovie Smith and the arrival of Marc Trestman. Not the men who picked him, and a whole new bunch of eyes he has to impress during his second NFL season. A bad year might not mean the end for the 23 year-old out of Boise State, as the option of converting him into a linebacker has also been thrown in the air.