Bears fans are hoping for double digit sacks from Shea McClellin this season to help off set some of the focus on Julius Peppers. McClellin was drafted to be a pass rushing specialist on third downs, essentially substituting for Israel Idonije.
The hope is McClellin will have a major impact as a rookie to help the Bears make a run to the Super Bowl.
The reality of McClellin's production will likely quite different than the hope surrounding his arrival.
To make this case I went and added up every rookie NFL sack specialist (DE/OLB) sack totals from their first year in the NFL. I started from the year 2000 and came all the way forward to 2011 and focused on each and every rookie drafted in the first and second round.
The obvious hope was to get a good idea of how productive McClellin can be based on surveyed average total.
That answer came rather simply, all of those 97 players drafted averaged a total of four sacks over this 12 year period.
I wasn't able to come up with pressure numbers outside of sacks so there is no way of knowing if a lot of these rookies got good pressure and simply weren't able to hit home.
However it's a number that is below expectations of most Bears fans I'm certain. Such a low average projected total may also seem to point to a player like Corey Wootton coming in and sending the young rookie to the bench.
Wootton who himself only has one career sack due to the many injuries he's fought to overcome isn't short on ability. He has shown burst off the edge and prior to his knee injury in the first game of the pre-season during the opening kickoff was having a strong camp.
Wootton's ability is there, the question is can his experience give him a bit of an edge to be the primary rusher complimenting Julius Peppers?
McClellin will likely get first crack at the lineup, but the thought is his production may not be any better than the production Wootton could put up if he was the starter and the Bears did not draft McClellin.
The question is who has the higher ceiling? Only time will tell but in the immediate it appears that the Bears may be best served letting Israel Idonije be the primary rusher opposite Peppers and sub in the rookie only when absolutely necessary.
Barring a special emergence from McClellin the Bears are probably best served leaving him in a backup role rather than trying to push him into an immediate special rushing/situational role.
McClellin should definitely earn his role and prove that he can be an immediate impact rusher in order to justify dislodging Israel Idonije from his all down regular DE position.