Bears may use McClellin on special teams

Chicago Bears GM Phil Emery says the team's first-round pick, former Boise State defensive end Shea McClellin, can contribute not only on defense but on special teams as well.

When the general manager of an NFL teams addresses the media after making the club's first-round selection, you don't typically expect him to bring up special teams.

Yet that's exactly what Chicago Bears GM Phil Emery did yesterday after selecting former Boise State defensive end Shea McClellin.

"Obviously [McClellin] helped fill a need for us as a pass rusher," said Emery. "We are also very excited about Shea in terms of his all-downs ability. This is an all-downs football player, including special teams. This is a four-down player. Our special teams coaches gave him a blue-level grade as a special teams player."

Normally, special teams players are selected in the later rounds. Most NFL clubs want their first rounders to be playmakers on either offense or defense, not in the game's third phase, where injuries are prevalent.

Kick returners are the exception. Arizona's Patrick Peterson -- who went to the Pro Bowl last year for his kick return ability, in which he scored four touchdowns as a rookie -- was the fifth overall pick in 2011.

Yet McClellin isn't a return man. His contributions in college came as a coverage player and blocker.

"I think I'm definitely going to be on every special teams here," said McClellin. "They believe I can do that and I know I can do that. At Boise State I played punt return, kickoff return. I did kickoff in practice. I did punt in practice. I'm used it and I just like getting out and competing. I expect to have a big impact on special teams."

The team will invest heavily in McClellin as a first-round pick, both financially and on the field. Which means, despite what he believes, it's unlikely they will be using him on special teams. It just doesn't make sense to put a first rounder in harms way unnecessarily. That's why teams bring in undrafted players and guys off the street: to play special teams so their starters don't have to.

So Emery bringing up McClellin's special teams ability as a basis for drafting him, when he may never see the field under Dave Toub, is a bit head scratching. Why even bring into consideration his value on special teams? That's not what he was draft to do.

It does say something about McClellin's overall athletic ability, which no one truly doubts. He's a versatile, hardworking player that ran a 4.67 40-yard dash at the combine, the second fastest of any defensive lineman.

Yet, if going forward, McClellin's biggest contributions come on special teams, then he may turn out to be a bigger reach at 19th overall than most initially believe.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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