The Eagles could use another Outside Linebacker, Shea McClellin is a man without a position in Chicago and Howie Roseman loves to make deals. Seems like ripe conditions for an Eagles-Bears trade that could make sense for both sides.
First, let’s be clear…this is purely speculation on my part. There are no reports or rumors on this subject. The idea was initially introduced to me after reading an article by Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz back in March.
Of course, Lawlor thought about the idea prior to free agency and the draft and it included the thought of dealing Brandon Graham for him.
Since then, the Bears have added two free agent defensive ends in Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston so they don’t particularly have a need for Graham, but he could be good for depth/rotational purposes.
However, that doesn’t negate the fact that McClellin’s status is still up in the air.
The Bears drafted McClellin in the first round in 2012. He was projected by virtually all draft scouts as an Outside Linebacker in a 3-4 defense so it was a surprise when he was taken by Chicago.
After spending two seasons miscast as a Defensive End in Chicago, the word “bust” has been thrown around a little bit. The stats show that in two seasons, he has 44 tackles and 6.5 sacks with no forced fumbles, batted passes or anything else.
Pro Football Focus had him ranked 51st out of 52 4-3 DEs that played at least 25% of their teams’ snaps in 2013.
His struggles at playing this position is what has led the Bears to move him to Linebacker for the upcoming season.
However, he is far from guaranteed a starting position.
He is slated to compete with Jon Bostic and D.J. Williams for one of two LB spots (Briggs has the other). Michael C. Wright, ESPN’s Bears reporter, doesn’t think McClellin will beat either of them out and will end up being relegated to a sub-package pass-rush role.
In addition, what could further muddy the waters for McClellin is if UDFA signing Christian Jones makes a good impression. Jones, whom many Eagles fans wanted the team to draft, had a third-round grade on him before news of a failed drug test dropped his stock.
Failed drug test and UDFA status aside, Jones certainly has the on-field talent to earn a roster spot and potentially work his way into a starting role sooner or later.
The Eagles tried trading for Dion Jordan earlier this offseason because of similar circumstances to McClellin’s. Jordan is thought to be miscast as a DE and should be an OLB in a 3-4. That’s what everyone thought about McClellin two years ago.
Apparently the Houston Texans tried to trade for McClellin last year, according to Brad Briggs of the Chicago Tribune. Obviously it didn’t happen and it wasn’t noted what the offer was, but it does show that a team with a 3-4 defense feels he’d be a good fit for them.
Hell, with all of the former Houston players on the Eagles, if McClellin was wanted by them that’s all the proof we need that he’d be a player the Eagles would like (kidding, sort of)!
Would he be a fit for the Eagles at OLB? If we go by his 2012 scouting reports, I’d say yes, absolutely.
Here’s a 2012 scouting report on him from WalterFootball.com:
Summary: McClellin has been one of the draft prospects who has seen a late surge in their stock as teams get in the final days of setting their draft board. In the past few weeks, McClellin’s stock has been on fire to the point where he is getting discussed in the middle of the first round. The reason for McClellin’s surge has been versatility. He can fit a 3-4 defense as an outside or inside linebacker who will contribute as a run defender while being a dangerous pass rusher.
McClellin recorded 50 tackles, seven sacks, 12.5 tackles for a loss, two interceptions, one forced fumble and a blocked kick in 2011. Aside from playing as a traditional defensive end, he lined up for the Broncos as both a stand-up rush linebacker and an inside linebacker. He could have had a bigger sack total if Boise State had let him rush the passer on every opportunity, but he dropped into pass coverage regularly. In his first game of the season, he vastly outplayed Georgia tackle/guard Cordy Glenn all night. McClellin’s speed off the edge was too much for Glenn to handle.
McClellin projects as an ideal 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. He has the athletic ability to drop into coverage and play space. He is a fabulous edge rusher who will give offenses fits with how to slow him down coming around the corner. He also has the ability to play some inside linebacker to stuff runs and rush up the middle. McClellin’s instincts are phenomenal, and they allow him to create splash plays. He could turn into a special perimeter linebacker who will impact game plans.
Sounds like versatility was McClellin’s middle name at Boise State.
Plus, at 6′ 3″ 255 lbs with 4.6 speed, long arms, large hands and seemingly meets all the Chip Kelly character prerequisites, I’d say he would have been under strong consideration from the current regime.
Lawlor also noted that the Eagles “quietly had a lot of interest” in McClellin in 2012. Quiet interest would describe how things were in the previous regime with Andy Reid. Unlike the current regime, there would often never be any pre-draft interest shown in many prospects the team was targeting.
The question of the supposed interest in him at that point is whether or not it was that Howie Roseman liked him, or if it was more of Jim Washburn thing due to his Wide-9 scheme (of which McClellin was thought to be a fit for as well).
According to Jeff Lurie, if you recall, 2012 was supposedly the first draft where Roseman was fully responsible. If there was interest in McClellin, Roseman was likely on board with that.
At this point, there is nothing to indicate the Eagles have any interest in him now nor is there anything that points to McClellin being available in a trade. But, if you consider the circumstances surrounding McClellin, Graham and the Eagles’ needs, it would at least make sense for the teams to discuss it.
Teams are always talking to each other about players so it’s certainly possibly this subject has come up.
I wouldn’t give up much for McClellin in a trade, definitely not a draft pick in the first three rounds. Either Brandon Graham straight up or, at most, Graham and a fourth round pick (preferably a later pick, but I could live with this).
Or, pehaps Graham and the conditional pick from the Bryce Brown trade.
With Trent Cole all but gone after 2014 and only having an unknown in rookie Marcus Smith to replace him, the depth at OLB is extremely thin. It would be nice to still add another player with the skill set that projects better as a 3-4 ‘backer rather than having a square peg trying to fit in a round hole (Graham).
McClellin could still end up being a bust, but I think he’s worth a shot. He’s still just 24 years old, which is the same age as Dion Jordan, so there’s still plenty of time for him to develop. Perhaps his best chance to do just that would be to play in a scheme better suited for his skills.
I realize this whole thing is a shot in the dark, but hey, we’re now in the doledrums of the offseason. Might as well try and spur some discussion.
How would you feel about trading for McClellin as somewhat of a consolation prize for not being able to swing that deal for Jordan?