I’ve been paying a great deal of attention to the NFL Draft and the Bears’ selections for about 20 years now. The Bears’ selection of DE Shea McClellin was a huge surprise to me, as it seems it was to many. The other Bears early draft surprises over the last 20 years have no bearing on whether McClellin will go on to be a successful NFL player or not, mind you, but let’s briefly look at some other players that were surprise high picks and how they fared:
1994: OT Marcus Spears in the 2nd round: Spears wasn’t on the radar of many, and in Dave Wannstedt’s first draft he conducted with Michael McCaskey (personnel VP Bill Tobin had input in 1993), Chicago took Spears as an offensive lineman while future Hall of Fame guard Larry Allen was still on the board. Spears was inactive on gamedays much of the time until the 1996 season, when he finally saw spot duty. He was out of the NFL shortly thereafter.
1995: DE Patrick Riley in the 2nd round: Riley was selected with the first of two Bears second-round picks in 1995. He played substitutionally, sparingly in 1995. In 1996 the Bears attempted to trade him to the Atlanta Falcons, but the Falcons ultimately rejected the trade. Bust.
2000: S Mike Brown in the 2nd round: There were higher ranked safeties still on the board when the Bears took Brown early in the second round. I can easily say this one worked out.
2005: WR Mark Bradley in the 2nd round: I was closely watching this draft and already mad as hell that the Bears took RB Cedric Benson with the fourth overall selection. When Bradley’s name was announced, I went right to my draft guide and found that he wasn’t even listed among the dozens of wide receivers ranked from first rounders to free agents. Puzzling pick. While Bradley showed flashes his rookie season up until he tore an ACL, he didn’t do much of anything before being cut outright early in the 2008 season.
2007: DE Dan Bazuin in the 2nd round: Angelo again thought he had a steal that nobody else realized, like with Bradley. Unfortunately what everyone else had obviously realized was that Bazuin would never play a down in the NFL and be a complete second-round bust.
2007: RB Garrett Wolfe in the 3rd round: It was a surprise to me at least to see the Bears take Wolfe in the third round since he was roundly considered to be a sixth-round or lower talent. Angelo took him anyway, stating at the time that “if you want a player that badly you have to make sure you get him regardless of where you take him.” Wolfe was relegated to special teams play and trouble off the field after not being re-signed by Chicago for the 2010 season.
2009: The almost-surprise bust that didn’t happen: In 2009, Angelo was reported to be enamored by Ohio safety Michael Mitchell and was ready to take the player with the 49th overall selection in the second round. Thankfully for the Bears, comparable draft boob Al Davis of the Raiders traded up two spots ahead of the Bears to “steal” him. Draft experts were shocked that these two teams were so enamored with a sixth or seventh-round talent. Verdict? So far Mitchell has failed to make any kind of impact in Oakland.
So there you have it. Again these players have nothing to do with the potential success of Shea McClellin. But to me it was still certainly a surprise.