The Chicago Bears surprised fans in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft by taking Shea McClellin, defensive end out of Boise State. Most discussion by fans heading into the draft had focused on Whitney Mercilus, defensive end from Illinois or Michael Floyd, wide receiver from Notre Dame falling to the Bears.
According to general manager Phil Emery, McClellin will play defensive end opposite Julius Peppers. The Bears consider Mclellin to be a high-motor player with excellent instincts, quick feet and hands and, "fills a need as a pass rusher and is a four-down player." Emery also mentioned that McClellin "showed us some natural things that other defensive ends did not show us to as high of a level. He doesn't get stuck on blocks."
Every part of Lovie Smith's defensive scheme begins with the pass rush and the Bears needed a shot in the arm in that area. With Quinto Coples and Melvin Ingram taken just ahead of the Bears' pick, Shea McClellin was the next best available player to fill their need for a pass rusher and to me, that's the definition of a quality draft pick; the best player available on the board to fill an immediate need.
I never thought Whitney Mercilus was a viable option for the Bears at No. 19. One standout year after two years under the radar does not impress me as a player who is worthy of a first round pick. He might be a better player with the Texans because of the quality they already have in place for him to compliment.
Due to the 49 sacks that Bears quarterbacks suffered last season I expected offensive line to be considered the biggest need on the team on two linemen that graded out as first year starters, Riley Reiff and David DeCastro were on the board when the Bears chose. It appears that the Bears consider their line to be good enough to perform and improve with Mike Tice as offensive coordinator and will address that area later in the draft, if at all.
Phil Emery has earned quite a bit of latitude when it comes to his player evaluations for the draft. His success in free agency has gone a long way to begin closing the talent gap with the rest of the division that was the result of Jerry Angelo's term as general manager. I think Emery has made a quality pick who will be a contributer on the Bears to begin his first draft as general manager.