Hoge: Scouting Bears’ Second Round Pick TE Adam Shaheen

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Ashland tight end Adam Shaheen runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The Bears made a very interesting second round pick Friday when general manager Ryan Pace traded back nine slots before selecting Ashland University tight end Adam Shaheen with the No. 45 overall pick.

At 6-6 1/2, 278 pounds, Shaheen is a monster tight end who looked like he was playing against high school kids at the Division-II level. On tape, he looks bigger than both his left and right tackles.

The size disparity makes it difficult to accurately evaluate the tape and it worries me that he doesn’t look more dominant as a blocker. He’s a “willing” blocker and certainly was asked to be more of a receiving weapon at Ashland, but given his size, I’m not extremely impressed with his blocking on tape. The good news is that he appears to have good enough strength, as he was a top performer in the bench press (24 reps) at the NFL Combine.

You can certainly see the potential as a receiver, however. His speed really stands out, out-running much smaller defensive backs down the field. Shaheen has a great hands and an ability to to adjust to the football in the air, which is rare for a tight end of his size. All this kid does is catch touchdowns, getting into the end zone 26 times in his final 22 games. Ashland often asked him to line up to the outside as a wide receiver, a skill that should translate to the NFL, creating mismatches.

Shaheen’s path to the NFL is certainly unique. He went to college to play basketball, mainly because he was barely 200 pounds. After deciding that he missed the game of football, he transferred to Ashland and ate food non-stop to bulk up.

“It was just a grind to put on that kind of weight and still maintain my athleticism,” Shaheen said Friday night via conference call. “It was a good grind for two years.”

Shaheen did it without sacrificing much speed, which is why he was able to leave Ashland with one year of eligibility, a rare feat for a Division-II prospect.

Ultimately, Shaheen is a very raw player with a ton of upside considering his size-speed ratio at the tight end position. He has the frame of a Y-tight end, but the skills of a big receiver. He’ll need some time to adjust while making a huge jump up in competition and his blocking must improve. Personally, I think this was a bit of a reach in the second round and it will be interesting to see how Shaheen’s career compares to South Alabama tight end Gerald Everett, who went to the Rams one pick ahead of the Bears. Both players are raw, athletic receiving tight ends who played against inferior competition, although Shaheen is considerably bigger.

While tight end is a big need for the Bears, it appears Pace is sticking strong to his “best player available” approach. For all the talk about the defensive depth in the first three rounds, Pace drafted a quarterback and a tight end in the first two rounds and his next pick isn’t slated to come until No. 117 in the fourth round. The Bears gave up their third round pick while trading up for Mitchell Trubisky in the first round. By trading back in the second, Pace was able to recoup a fourth round pick while swapping out his seventh round pick for a sixth rounder. The Bears also received a 2018 fourth rounder from the Cardinals in the deal.

Ryan Pace’s take:

“(Shaheen) is built like a Y-tight end — an in-line tight end — but he has the route quickness to play what we call the ‘F’ role, so it’s really interesting because a guy that big, he’s a difficult guy to defend in traffic because he’s big, he can go attack the ball and he’s got really good concentration so this is really interesting for us.”

“He’s so strong. Guys will drape on him and he can still have the concentration to make the catch. But the point I want to get across with him is for a guy that’s as big as he is, he’s got good route quickness and good route savviness to set guys up. And I think that’s what really impressed us all. For as big as he is, is this guy really 6-6 1/2 and 278 pounds because he doesn’t move like that. He moves like a more agile player than you would think for a guy with that kind of size.”

Adam Hoge covers the Chicago Bears for WGN Radio and WGNRadio.com. He also co-hosts The Beat, weekends on 720 WGN. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.

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