Bears Feel They Accomplished Their Goals in Emery's First Draft.......
Bears accomplish goals in Emery's first draft
By: Larry Mayer | Last Updated: 4/28/2012 7:51 PM
Seeking talented and dynamic playmakers who are capable of contributing immediately, Phil Emery deemed his first draft as Bears general manager a success.
“I felt like we did very well,” Emery said Saturday evening. “The overriding thing was finding the players that can help us the quickest to reach our goals of winning a championship, and we felt very good. We made progress in that area.”
That progress was achieved with Boise State defensive end Shea McClellin in the first round (19th overall), South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery in the second (45th), Oregon State safety Brandon Hardin in the third (79th), Temple tight end Evan Rodriguez in the fourth (111th), Nevada cornerback Isaiah Frey in the sixth (184th) and TCU cornerback Greg McCoy in the seventh (220th).
McClellin (6-3, 260) is a versatile pass rusher who possesses natural instincts and a non-stop motor. A three-year starter at Boise State, he recorded 130 tackles, 33 tackles-for-loss, 20½ sacks, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries while lining up at multiple positions in 49 career games.
“Starting off with Shea McClellin, I’m really excited about him being a Chicago Bear,” said coach Lovie Smith. “I’ve had a chance to hear an awful lot about where he will play. He’s not a linebacker, start with that. He won’t be a linebacker. He’ll have his hand down in a three-point stance from Day 1.
“We can’t wait to get started with him. We think he can be an excellent pass rusher in the league. He’s excited about coming in and competing with our other defensive ends.”
The Bears traded their fifth-round pick to the Rams to move up five spots to select Jeffery (6-3, 216), who ranks second all-time among SEC receivers with 3,042 yards. Jeffery was the highest rated player remaining on the Bears’ board when they chose him, and they had him ranked among the top three receivers in the entire draft.
Jeffery had a breakout season as a sophomore in 2010 with 88 receptions for 1,517 yards and nine touchdowns before his production dipped to 49 catches for 762 yards and eight TDs last year as a junior when South Carolina employed more of a run-oriented offense.
“He has great size, great ability and great hands,” Smith said. “[Bears receivers coach] Darryl Drake thought he had the best hands in the draft, so we’re excited about getting him on the football field. He can do a lot of things. He’s a great athlete. He’ll fit in well also.”
Emery acknowledged that expectations are high for McClellin and Jeffery based on where they were picked.
“In a normal draft, you look at those first two rounds as projected starters,” Emery said. “Certainly our grades reflected that. Sometimes it takes those guys some time. “[But] we expect immediate contributions, meaning they should at minimum be in a role, Shea with the pass rush group and Alshon should be one of those top three wideouts.He needs to come ready to work, which I know he will, and get in the mix.”
Hardin (6-3, 222) is a big, fast physical defensive back who was a three-year contributor at Oregon State before he missed his entire senior season with a broken shoulder. He played cornerback in college but is being projected as a strong safety with the Bears.
“I really like his size and speed,” Smith said. “I know he hasn’t played a lot of safety, but he’s a smart guy. He should make that transition well. As he’s learning the safety position we feel he can be a very good special teams player for us.”
The Bears view Rodriguez (6-2, 244) as a combination fullback and tight end who can make a lead block on a linebacker and also beat a defender down the middle of the field with his 4.56 speed in the 40. Rodriguez possesses the versatility to play all three downs, which should create match-up problems.
Smith described Rodriguez as “another guy that can do a lot of things for us, whether it’s lining up at the fullback position, splitting out as [a tight end], being able to move. He’s got good speed and he’s a good blocker. We can do a lot of things with him. He gives us a lot of options.”
The Bears selected cornerbacks in the final two rounds. Last season Frey (5-11, 190) was voted first-team all-WAC after tying for the FBS lead with 21 pass breakups and recording a career-high five interceptions, while McCoy (5-10, 181) was named Mountain West special teams player of the year after averaging 30.6 yards with two touchdowns on 37 kickoff returns.
While all six draft picks boast different skills, they all possess the same traits the Bears were seeking.
“Go back to the original formula: Production, playmaking ability, dynamic athletic ability,” Emery said. “If they have those things, you can project forward that they’re going to have a higher opportunity to make it in the NFL. They have to have a base level of athleticism, dynamic suddenness, quickness and instincts to make it in the NFL. Those are the things that we look for.”