Contract signed, Bears tight end Adam Shaheen seeks more growth

Contract signed, Bears tight end Adam Shaheen seeks more growth

As the Bears announced their signing of second round draft pick Adam Shaheen Friday afternoon, it brought us back to CSN Chicago's visit with his position coach following the first day of rookie minicamp one week earlier. 

In addition to veteran Zach Miller and free agent signee Dion Sims, tight ends coach Frank Smith has another fairly "green" player at the position in Daniel Brown, who was converted from wide receiver by Baltimore a year ago, and showed signs of promise with 16 catches over the final six games after the Bears picked him up when the Ravens ran out of roster space last October. Former Southern Illinois tight end MyCole Pruitt was active the final two games (one reception) after Minnesota cut him in December.

Now, Shaheen and his huge size and upside, gets thrown into the on-field mix when organized team activities pick up steam at Halas Hall next week.

"The thing when you’re of that size, to control your body and move and be sudden in your routes, those are traits that he has possessed," said Smith. "Everything you saw on tape you’re starting to see, and just as he grows and we start adding more concepts, it’ll be exciting to see how he grasps that, and using his skillset as a player to fit in the offense."

Still, when you're 6'6, 277 lbs. and just three years into devoting yourself back to football, long striders like that sometimes lack a certain fluidity. And heck, the great Rob Gronkowski of the Patriots still sometimes lacks that look on the field too. The dance floor? That's different. But Smith knows his newest pupil is in the infant stages of a growing process, learning the intricacies of his trade at the highest level now.

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"There’s been guys from 1-AA, D-II, all those guys," Smith said. "I think the real expectation for him right now is learning his playbook, learning his techniques, because the volume of stuff will be a little bit more. But the expectation for him is just every day improve, work on one thing a day, work on a technique, and that will build your portfolio as you go forward."

Inquiring minds of Bears fans prefer an answer immediately on whether such a high investment from Ashland (the Ohio university, not the Chicago street or southwest side neighborhood) is worth it. It's a little early for that. But what about Shaheen's inquiring mind?

"At this point, any and all questions you're looking for," Smith said. "He's asking good questions, has a very good grasp of football, understands more than just what his play is. He understands for the most part what we're trying to do with concepts."

There is no question Shaheen now faces a step up in class and competition. But Smith believes the fact he was moved around within multiple sets in his college offense will help that process along.

"That actually follows with guys maybe from even 1-A who run a spread system, and they never put their hand in the dirt," he said. "So really, you could have a guy who played maybe at some major school, but they never played in-line tight end. So you have that background. So just knowing that every day, every challenge is - and I think this goes for anyone - is play each play.  Play each moment and work on your daily stuff that you’re trying to improve on with your game."

Bears sign tight end Adam Shaheen to four-year contract

Bears sign tight end Adam Shaheen to four-year contract

And then there was one.

The Bears signed tight end Adam Shaheen to a four-year contract on Friday afternoon, leaving quarterback Mitch Trubsiky as the only remaining unsigned member of their 2017 Draft class.

Shaheen, the 45th overall pick, hauled in 57 passes for 867 yards and 16 touchdowns at Division II Ashland in 2016. Shaheen was a two-time AFCA All-American during his time at Ashland.

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The 6-foot-6, 278 pound Shaheen began his collegiate career at Pittsburgh-Johnstown as a basketball player. He transferred to Ashland to play football in 2014.

Shaheen will likely head into training camp as the Bears' No. 3 tight end behind starter Zach Miller and backup Dion Sims.

Early look at 2017 Bears depth chart

Early look at 2017 Bears depth chart

After a 3-13 season, Bears GM Ryan Pace left no stone unturned trying to upgrade the franchise during this past offseason.

With an abundance new faces at several key positions, the Bears will head into training camp this summer with some key positional battles to keep an eye on.  

Here's an early look at the 2017 Bears depth chart in order of positional ranking:

OFFENSE

QB

Mike Glennon
Mark Sanchez
Mitch Trubisky
Connor Shaw

It would be shocking to see the Bears come out of the Soldier Field tunnel in Week 1 with anybody but Mike Glennon leading out the starters. Even after an impressive rookie minicamp, Mitch Trubisky is still a work in progress that the Bears coaching staff will need to handle with care if they want him to succeed in being the long-term quarterback of the future. Mark Sanchez's veteran presence gives him a leg up on Connor Shaw to make the final 53-man roster come September.

RB

Jordan Howard
Benny Cunningham
Jeremy Langford
Tarik Cohen
Ka'Deem Carey
Joel Bouagnon

Coming off a Pro Bowl rookie season, Howard is entrenched as the Bears' starter heading into the 2017 season. The Bears added a sorely needed speed dimension to the group with Darren Sproles clone in rookie running back Tarik Cohen. The Bears also brought in veteran Benny Cunningham who could unseat Jeremy Langford as Howard's backup. 

WR

Cameron Meredith
Kevin White
Markus Wheaton
Kendall Wright
Josh Bellamy
Deonte Thompson
Daniel Braverman
Rueben Randle
Tanner Gentry
Titus Davis
Jhajuan Seales

It won't be easy for the Bears to replace Alshon Jeffery's production, but Pace added depth to the group with the signings of Kendall Wright and Markus Wheaton. If Kevin White can bounce back from injury and show flashed of why he was a Top 10 pick in 2015, and either Wheaton or Wright emerges as a solid No. 3, the Bears could have a formidable group behind last year's breakout star Cameron Meredith.

TE

Zach Miller
Dion Sims
Adam Shaheen
Daniel Brown
Ben Braunecker
MyCole Pruitt
Franko House

The Bears got much stronger at tight end with the signing of Dion Sims and the selection of "Baby Gronk" Adam Shaheen in the second round of last month's draft. It will be a crowded group in Bourbonnais, and if Zach Miller can stay healthy, the Bears have the personnel that can cause major mismatches for opposing defenses. 

FB 

Freddie Stevenson

Undrafted free agent Freddie Stevenson is the lone wolf at fullback after Paul Lasike was waived. Stevenson served as the lead blocker for All-American running back Dalvin Cook. He had 292 total yards and seven touchdowns with the Seminoles.

RT

Bobby Massie
Tom Compton
Mitchell Kirsch

RG

Kyle Long
Cyril Richardson

C

Cody Whitehair
Hroniss Grasu
Taylor Boggs

LG

Josh Sitton
Eric Kush
Jordan Morgan

LT

Charles Leno Jr.
Bradley Sowell
William Pohels
Joseph Dieugot

If the Bears are fortunate enough to make it through preseason without any key injuries, they will go into Week 1 with all but one — Cody Whithair took over for Ted Larsen in Week 4 — of the same starters that they began 2016 with against the Houston Texans. The Bears have reliable backups in Eric Kush, who could play both guard positions, and veteran Tom Compton. The wildcard on the offensive line is third-year pro and former third-round pick Hroniss Grasu who missed all of 2016 with a torn ACL.

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DEFENSE

DE

Akiem Hicks
Jaye Howard
Mitch Unrein
Jonathan Bullard
C.J. Wilson
Kapron Lewis-Moore
Rashaad Coward

If free agent signing Jaye Howard can rebound from a hip flexor injury that cut his 2016 season short, the Bears could have lethal end duo in Howard and Akiem Hicks (7 sacks in 2016). The Bears also have quality depth in veteran Mitch Unrein and 2016 third-round pick Jonathan Bullard.

DT

Eddie Goldman
John Jenkins

When healthy, Goldman has been a dominating presence on the interior of the Bears defensive line. If Goldman were to miss any time, the Bears have mammoth nose tackle John Jenkins (6-foot-3, 359 pounds), lurking in the background. 

OLB

Pernell McPhee
Leonard Floyd
Willie Young
Lamarr Houston
Sam Acho
Dan Skuta
Roy Robertson-Harris
Hendrick Ekpe
Isaiah Irving

Injuries aside, Leonard Floyd looked every bit the part of a Top 10 pick with seven sacks in his rookie season. Health questions remain, but the Bears have a deep stable of outside linebackers behind Floyd in Pernell McPhee, Willie Young and Lamarr Houston. The final spot on the 53-man roster could come down to a three-way battle between veterans' Sam Acho and Dan Skuta, and second-year pro Roy Robertson-Harris.

ILB

Jerrell Freeman
Danny Trevathan
Nick Kwiatkoski
Christian Jones
Jonathan Anderson
John Timu
Alex Scearce

Jerrell Freeman, and his No. 1 Pro Football Focus grade, return to anchor the Bears' inside linebacker group. Danny Trevathan's ruptured patellar tendon could cause result in missing the start of training camp. If Trevathan misses any time during the regular season, he'll be replaced in the starting lineup by Nick Kwiatkoski who showed promise in his rookie season. Christian Jones has the edge for a roster spot over Jonathan Anderson and John Timu due to his ability to impact the game on special teams.

CB

Prince Amukamara
Marcus Cooper
​Cre'Von LeBlanc
Kyle Fuller
Bryce Callahan
Sherrick McManis
Johnthan Banks
Rashaad Reynolds
B.W. Webb

The Bears will likely have two new starting cornerbacks in 2017 with free agent acquisitions' Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper. Both Cre'Von LeBlanc and Bryce Callahan showed growth in 2016 and could battle it out for the starting nickel corner job. Unless he has a big preseason, former Phil Emery first round pick Kyle Fuller could be the odd man out in the secondary.

FS

Adrian Amos
Eddie Jackson
Deiondre' Hall
DeAndre Houston-Carson

Adrian Amos took a step back in 2016 and will be challenged by fourth-round pick Eddie Jackson for the team's starting free safety position. One intriguing player to watch will be Deiondre' Hall, who is expected to make the switch to safety after playing cornerback during his four years at Northern Iowa and in his rookie season with the Bears.

SS

Quintin Demps
Harold Jones-Quartey
Chris Prosinski
Deon Bush

Free agent signing Quintin Demps will provide a dose of veteran leadership in the Bears secondary. Demps, who turns 32 later this summer, should serve as a stopgap until the Bears find a long-term solution at strong safety. 

SPECIAL TEAMS

K

Andy Phillips
Connor Barth

P

Pat O'Donnell

LS

Patrick Scales

Connor Barth recovered after a shaky start to his Bears career in 2016, but he'll be challenged in camp by undrafted free agent kicker Andy Phillips. A former member of the United States National Ski Team, Phillips converted 84 percent of field goals and missed just one extra point during his time at Utah. If he performs well in preseason, there's a good chance he'll dethrone Barth as the Bears starting kicker due to his age and contract status. As of now, neither Pat O'Donnell nor Patrick Scales have any roster competition to worry about.