The Bears selected Boise State defensive end Shea McClellin with their top pick Thursday.
McClellin (6-3, 258) is a versatile pass rusher who played inside and outside linebacker as well as defensive end during his four years with the Broncos. He registered 20½ sacks, 33 tackles for losses and four interceptions during his career and impressed scouts during the Senior Bowl.
McClellin smiled and donned a Bears hat after his name was called in New York.
“It’s going to be awesome,” McClellin said.
Although the Bears needed a pass rusher, their decision to select McClellin surprised some experts. Other defensive ends such as Whitney Mercilus of Illinois and Chandler Jones of Syracuse were available for the Bears’ pick at No. 19, as were offensive lineman Reilly Reiff of Iowa and David DeCastro of Stanford.
Bears general manager Phil Emery said McClellin was a versatile player with natural instincts that impressed the team's scouting department. He said McClellin could line up at left defensive end opposite Pro Bowl teammate Julius Peppers, but McClellin also was strong enough to play right defensive end with Peppers moving to defensive tackle on certain plays.
"Obviously, it helped fill a need for us as a pass rusher," Emery said. "We're also very excited about Shea in terms of his all-downs ability. This is an all-downs football player, including special teams. This is a four-down player."
Earlier this week, Emery said he wanted to draft players who could help the Bears pursue a Super Bowl championship as quickly as possible. Emery indicated Thursday that McClellin's natural instincts would help him adjust to the NFL more quickly than other draft candidates.
"He's relentless in terms of his motor," Emery said.
McClellin grew up on a farm in Idaho, where he said he learned the value of hard work.
“It teaches you discipline, responsibility, hard work,” McClellin said on ESPN immediately after he was selected. “I think that’s made me who I am.”
The bio of McClellin the Bears released shortly after the pick described McClellin as "one of the most underrated defensive ends in the college ranks."
The early part of the first round featured several trades as teams accumulated mid-round picks.
The Indianapolis Colts selected Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick to replace franchise icon Peyton Manning. Next up was the Washington Redskins, who selected Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III and bumped ex-Bears signal-caller Rex Grossman to a backup role.
The first 10 selections included six players on offense and four players on defense.