Shaheen Aims For Big Jump After Rocky Rookie Year

"I expect big things from him," teammate Charles Leno says.

Chris Emma
July 23, 2018 - 1:21 pm
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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (670 The Score) -- The catch radius of Adam Shaheen, a 6-foot-6 monstrosity at tight end for the Bears, is something that immediately stands out. 

General manager Ryan Pace recognized that before drafting Shaheen second round in 2017, and new coach Matt Nagy took notice over the last three months as he put together pieces for his offense during the offseason program.

The greatest hurdle for Shaheen hasn't been going up for a catch but rather how he could handle leaping from the Division-II ranks of Ashland University as a junior to the NFL as a rookie.

"It was definitely a jump," Shaheen said from a more comfortable training camp this time around.

Shaheen was the 45th overall pick in 2017 draft, as the Bears expressed a great belief in his potential. As a rookie facing a big adjustment, he finished with just 12 catches, 127 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games.

Players can break out as rookies, but Shaheen is a reminder that it typically takes several years to truly judge a draft pick. Though there wasn't production to show for it, Shaheen made strides as a rookie.

"Just his size, his route running for a guy that’s that big, his catching radius, his ability to go up and get the ball in tight coverage -- those are all attractive traits," Pace said. "Again, he’s still a young player from a relatively small school we still feel has upside and is still growing.”

Added tackle Charles Leno, a believer in Shaheen: "He was just getting his feet wet."

Toward the end of the season, Shaheen felt he'd overcome a great deal of the rookie hurdles and was comfortable with the NFL game speed. During a game in Cincinnati in December, he rose up in the corner of the end zone to haul in an impressive touchdown catch, which showcased the threat he could constantly pose. But Shaheen also suffered an injury on the play and missed the remainder of the season, halting his chance to emerge into a role before the offseason.

Shaheen trained in Columbus, Ohio for much of this offseason before rejoining the Bears for training camp. He arrived at Olivet Nazarene with a leaner physique but added muscle, which he credits to a tight training regimen. It has allowed Shaheen to play quicker off the snap and manuever better through openings in coverage.

Nagy's offense incorporates the tight ends regularly and will provide Shaheen and others with opportunities to make plays.

"The tight ends as a whole, this offense will be beneficial," Shaheen said. "Last year, our production wasn't great. I think a lot of that will be turned around this year.

"I'm just going to do what I can do, control what I can control."

Shaheen isn't revealing what those around him believe.

"I expect big things from him," Leno said. "Second-year guy, big talent. Now he's just got to put it all together."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.