Adam Shaheen’s college coach: ‘His ceiling for greatness is unbelievable’

Adam Shaheen’s college coach: ‘His ceiling for greatness is unbelievable’

Lee Owens has coached at Division II Ashland since 2004, but before that, he was a head coach at Akron and an offensive line assistant at Ohio State. 

During those two stops, Owens coached 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Jason Taylor and 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Orlando Pace. And, as a side note, in 2007 Owens hired Matt LaFleur to be Ashland’s offensive coordinator. A decade later, LaFleur is now the offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams. 

Can Adam Shaheen, the hulking 6-foot-6, 278 pound second-round pick of the Bears, follow in those others’ footsteps? 

“His ceiling for greatness is unbelievable,” Owens said. 

The Bears made a bold move in taking a Division II tight end who didn’t have any scholarship offers coming out of high school and played basketball for a year before getting the itch to return to football. But perhaps the more surprising part of Shaheen’s selection with the 45th pick was that he had college eligibility remaining. 

While the best players at college football’s top level frequently turn pro with a year left, that’s not the case in Division II. 

“It’s kind of unheard of,” Owens said. “I don’t remember any cases at all.”

Shaheen impressed those who watched him across the NFL — Bears area scout Jeff Shiver was “pounding the table” for Shaheen, general manager Ryan Pace said — because of the way he moves for someone of his size. His basketball background makes him a natural at “boxing out” in the end zone, where he’s adept at positioning himself to beat opposing defenders. 

Todd McShay said a scout texted him raving about Shaheen last October, which tipped off the ESPN draft analyst to watch his tape. And that film study led to this conclusion: “He’s the real deal.”

“Now the level of competition, I get it, and it was very clear that he was just kind of manhandling some guys,” McShay said on a conference call Sunday. “But he, at 278 pounds, has good speed, very athletic, very good hands, does a great job on contested throws, can run after the catch and I just think he’s got a chance to be an impact starter.

“… I like the pick. You got a young quarterback who at some point who in (Mitch) Trubisky who will take over and now you give him a young security blanket to grow old with, if you will.” 

While Shaheen will have to deal with a significant step up in competition, one thing Owens noted is that Ashland runs a pro-style offense. That means Shaheen isn’t totally foreign to the blocking assignments required of him at the NFL level, an area of his game that probably will need the most growth going forward. 

“Is he as polished as he needs to be? Absolutely not,” Owens said. “I would love to have him for another year. He’s made great strides in the two years he’s played. And it’s not a case of him not being able to do it, but he needs more work. He’s plenty strong, he’s plenty big, and he’s got a great base and great feet and he’s not afraid of contact, so I don’t question his ability to get better and better at that.”

From a personality standpoint, Owens lauded Shaheen’s maturity and how he handles both success and pressure. And the guy who saw Pace and Taylor in college sounds convinced his latest player to make it to the NFL was well worth a top-50 draft pick. 

“All those kind of things make you a great pro, Adam obviously has that,” Owens said. “I look long-term and I see him playing a long time and having an unbelievable career.”

Tarik Cohen was NFL's best big-play RB in 2017

Tarik Cohen was NFL's best big-play RB in 2017

Tarik Cohen's rookie season with the Chicago Bears was an impressive blend of running, receiving and special teams play. He quickly became a household name. The combination of his diminutive frame and oversized personality made him a fan favorite, especially when he started gaining yards in chunks.

In fact, of all running backs with a minimum of 80 carries last season, Cohen had the highest percentage of runs that were 15 or more yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

Cohen will have a big role in new coach Matt Nagy's offense this season because of everything he offers a play-caller. He's a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield and can chew up yards on the ground like any traditional running back. He's a hold-your-breath talent who can turn a bad play into a touchdown in the blink of an eye.

Cohen had 370 rushing yards, 353 receiving yards and three offensive touchdowns in what can be described as a limited role last year. John Fox and Dowell Loggains didn't seem to ever figure out how to best use Cohen's skill set. That should be no issue for Nagy and Mark Helfrich, the team's new offensive coordinator, who both bring a creative offensive approach to Chicago.

Jordan Howard will be the starter and will do most of the heavy lifting. But Cohen is going to have a much bigger role than he had as a rookie, and that should result in more big plays and points on the board.

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.

Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals. 

"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.

"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."

Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.

Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.