The 2010s decade is in the rearview mirror for the Chicago Bears. Mercifully so in the estimation of most fans. If asked about what was most memorable about it, the most common answers will be losing an NFC championship to the Packers, back-to-back games giving up 50 points, their first 3-13 season, and the Double Doink. Not much fun. A big part of why was how poor they did drafting during those 10 years. Specifically in the 1st round. The poster child for many is wide receiver Kevin White.
Bleacher Report posted their choices recently of the worst pick made by every team in the past decade. White was the man for Chicago. Honestly, it’s not a hard choice.
“Like so many players who don’t reach their potential early in their careers, wideout Kevin White battled multiple injuries.
He missed his rookie campaign with a stress fracture in his leg that required surgery. Then in 2016, after four appearances, the West Virginia product suffered a high ankle sprain and a fractured fibula.
Despite the early setbacks, White opened 2017 in a starting role. He caught two passes for six yards and then fractured his shoulder blade, which put him on injured reserve for a third consecutive year.
In four seasons with the Chicago Bears, White suited up for just 14 games, logging 25 receptions for 285 yards.”
There is no question White was a massive failure. That said, was he really the worst 1st round pick? Hard as it might be to think, he is not.
Shea McClellin was worse than Kevin White
People will ask the obvious question. How can a 19th overall pick be a bigger bust than a 7th overall pick? This is where context is needed. Looking back, the 2015 NFL draft wasn’t the worst 1st round ever but it also comes across as one of the less impactful groups in recent history. Here are the next 10 players taken after the Bears selected White at #7.
- Vic Beasley
- Ereck Flowers
- Todd Gurley
- Trae Waynes
- Danny Shelton
- Andrus Peat
- DeVante Parker
- Melvin Gordon
- Kevin Johnson
- Arik Armstead
While that’s not a bad list, it’s worth noting that just three of those 10 players are still with their original teams. When the conversation of Shea McClellin comes up? It gets much worse. Avert your eyes. Here are the 10 players drafted after him in 2012.
- Kendall Wright
- Chandler Jones
- Brandon Weeden
- Riley Reiff
- David DeCastro
- Dont’a Hightower
- Whitney Mercilus
- Kevin Zeitler
- Nick Perry
- Harrison Smith
Think about that.
Despite being on the bottom half of the 1st round, the Bears missed out on three future All-Pros (Jones, DeCastro, and Smith). Not to mention other future good players. Hell, Perry had more sacks in one season (11) than McClellin managed his entire career (8.5).
At least Kevin White was an obvious choice to many. Experts had him as a top 10 prospect. Top draft analyst Matt Miller had McClellin as his 31st overall prospect. If that weren’t enough, he was widely projected to fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker. So not only did GM Phil Emery significantly reach on the Boise State defender at #19, but he also drafted him into a position (4-3 defensive end) most saw as a bad fit.
White may have had a worse career overall. That doesn’t mean he was the worse pick.