Even after a busy offseason featuring a slew of high profile names signing on with the Bears from outside the organization, one of the players already in house figures to create as much buzz as anybody.
Gordon McGuinness of Pro Football Focus presents 10 players worthy of an expanded look in 2018. There, you’ll find Bears tight end Adam Shaheen (DUH DOY) whose upside, potential, and skills merit a chance for more opportunities once training camp, the preseason, and the regular season get underway.
Here’s what McGuinness had to say about the Bears’ young tight end, who makes the short-list of players he wants to see more of in the year to come:
“A second-round draft pick out of Ashland, the learning curve for Shaheen was always going to be steep, but he gave a good account of himself on 239 snaps, picking up 12 receptions from 14 targets including three touchdowns. Perhaps most impressive was that he generally looked solid as a run blocker, no small feat considering the step up he was facing.”
The good news is that Shaheen is expected to get some more burn this coming season. Matt Nagy has said he has big plans for Shaheen and the rest of the Bears’ tight ends in 2018, and the second-year tight end sounds like he is up to the task. But before we get there, we should explain what happened during Shaheen’s rookie season.
Part of the reason Shaheen probably didn’t get as many looks in the passing game as he should have is that the Bears didn’t get to the red zone often enough to utilize him properly.
The Bears were tied with the Raiders and Jets for the fewest red zone scoring attempts per game in 2017, but scored touchdowns on the fifth highest percentage of red zone trips. Shaheen was a big factor in that, as three of the six targets thrown his way when the team was inside the 20 turned into touchdowns. And while that’s an extremely small sample, you can’t blame me for dreaming on a guy whom quarterbacks posted a 109.7 passer rating when targeting in the scoring area (especially because a better offensive roster and more modern/aggressive playbook should put the Bears in that position more often anyway). No wonder McGuinness and Bears fans everywhere are pining to see more of Shaheen in 2018.
Despite Shaheen’s red zone proficiency, the John Fox-Dowell Loggains tandem slow-played the rookie’s on-field/in-game development. So much so, fellow tight end Daniel Brown played more total snaps than Shaheen despite the fact that Shaheen made seven starts to Brown’s two in 2017. It was most notable in the passing game, where Shaheen was in on a total of 73 passing snaps. Brown played more than twice that amount and Dion Sims played nearly three times as many passing snaps than Shaheen.
While limiting a prospect’s playing time during a lost year is an odd way of developing a player’s skill set, the past will soon be just that as Shaheen gets a clean slate in his second year in the pros. Shaheen might have to share reps with Sims and Brown early, but if he can assert himself as the clear-cut top in-line tight end option, it will be hard for Nagy to keep him off the field.