The Bears believe Shea McClellin has the versatility to play either defensive end or linebacker, but general manager Phil Emery clarified that his long-term plan for the former first-round draft pick doesn't include succeeding Brian Urlacher.
"We don't envision him playing middle linebacker here,'' Emery told the Tribune on Thursday at the NFL scouting combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. "We see him standing up and doing some things in certain situations, spying. The coaching staff will figure out the best way to use him.''
Former Bears coach Lovie Smith also expressed no plans to move McClellin to middle linebacker or any other linebacker spot, for that matter. However, at least one member of the previous coaching staff believed the 6-foot-3, 260-pounder was destined for middle linebacker under a new regime, based on discussions around Halas Hall.
McClellin stood up a handful of times last season for former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. He was used to spy on dynamic rookie quarterback Russell Wilson in a 23-17 loss to the Seahawks.
Emery emphasized where he feels McClellin was best-suited heading into his second-season.
"Right now, he's a d-end,'' Emery told reporters. "He'll remain at d-end. … We're not going to put an umbrella around him. We're going to use his talents, his athleticism, his speed, his savvy the best that we can. … He's a d-end. That's his position.
"We're excited about him as a pass-rusher. We want to get him on the field more in regular-down situations, and his versatility is a plus for him. So if he ends up being a linebacker in some situations, good.''
McClellin, who dealt with a sprained knee and suffered a concussion last season, finished his rookie campaign with 21/2 sacks, seven total tackles (two for a loss) in 14 games as a situational pass-rusher. He played 365 snaps, which amounted to 34.7 percent of the defensive plays.
Bears sticking with McClellin at defensive end
Chicago Tribune | Feb 22