Benson, McClellin, McNown: What really is a Bears bust?

Benson, McClellin, McNown: What really is a Bears bust?
June 4, 2014, 1:30 pm
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Another fun stop-by with the Davids — Haugh and Kaplan — this morning on 87 7 The Game, catching the boys in mid-firefight over whether Jay Williams or other selected Chicago athletes constitute a “bust.” The one thing the lads seemed to agree on was that a bust was someone who failed to fulfill or play to potential.

That’s OK, to a point. Williams was the No. 2 overall pick by the Bulls in the 2002 draft. He never reached a playing level commensurate with his status, but that was primarily because of a serious motorcycle accident. Because that stemmed from an action in violation of his contract, Williams deserves the “bust” label if only because of idiocy.

Cedric Benson was mentioned. A No. 5 overall pick, major disappointment in Chicago, some nagging injuries and never a good fit with the team fabric.

But Benson then went to the Cincinnati Bengals and reeled off three 1,000-yard seasons. That earns him a pass out of the “bust” group.

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Shea McClellin? No. At worst, an “incomplete” because none other than general manager Phil Emery acknowledged that two years spent trying to force a square peg (linebacker) into a round hole (defensive end) was a mistake. Did McClellin play like a 19th-overall draft pick? Of course not. But Brian Urlacher was well on his way to “bust” status when he couldn’t hold the Sam linebacker job he was handed, then became a great at the Mike spot. McClellin might never be No. 54, but he’s also not Keith McCants. Or Vernon Gholston. Or John Thierry. If you’re talking about college linebackers who were whiffs at D-end.

Injuries complicate the “bust” discussion, but here’s the thing:

Williams’ injury was on him and came off the court. Bust. Cade McNown had a shoulder injury, but it was amply evident irrespective of the injury that he did not have an NFL arm, or an NFL head for that matter.

Rashaan Salaam? Not the same thing as McNown. Salaam had early fumble issues but also rushed for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns as a rookie, then was undone by knee injuries. Not a true “bust.”

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Curtis Enis? He was starting to figure it out when he had a torn ACL his rookie year. But he was a holdout, had a horrifically bad attitude about blocking (a big reason he wasn’t playing much of that first year) and, like Williams, was his own worst enemy. Bust.

Frankly, the Bears have gotten more out of McClellin already than they did out of Enis and McNown. If McClellin can’t play linebacker, then he’ll qualify for “bust.” But let’s let a little more time play out there.