Adam Shaheen was on the field for just one passing snap in the Chicago Bears’ Week 2 loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You might remember it as the soul-crushing interception on the team’s first offensive drive where fellow tight end Dion Sims sat in the middle of triple coverage while Shaheen was uncovered in the flat.
The Bears are just two games into the 2017 season, but it’s worth asking whether or not the team is botching the development of their rookie tight end.
To be clear, the team chose Shaheen as a second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft with their eyes on the future. They saw a prototype tight end body (6-6, 270) and a potential mismatch in the passing game because of his size, athleticism, skill set, and upside.
Shaheen was always going to be a project because he was making the leap from Division II Ashland University to the NFL, but his size and skill was supposed to give him somewhat of a sturdy floor as a pass-catcher. But through two weeks, we haven’t seen much of anything out of Shaheen.
Shaheen has played a grand total of 13 snaps in two games. Not only is it the fewest among the Bears tight ends, it also ranks as the least among second-round pass catchers. Wide receivers Zay Jones (115), Curtis Samuel (25), Gerald Everett (44), and JuJu Smith-Schuster (64) – all fellow second-round selections – have all seen more playing time than Shaheen.
It was no secret Shaheen needed to improve on his blocking skills, but if he is a work-in-progress in that area, then making nearly 85 percent of his snaps come as a run blocker cuts a couple ways. On the one hand, it could put the offense in a hole in service of getting Shaheen some in-game blocking reps. On the other hand, he’s gotta get that experience somehow, if it really is the area he needs most work. Of course, the third hand there is that if Shaheen can be an impact player in the passing game, then the Bears will need to get him more involved on that front, too.
The Bears’ management of their tight ends should be watched closely moving forward. Zach Miller, who was demoted to second-string behind Sims, actually leads Bears tight ends with 88 snaps, while Sims – the starter – has played 78. At some point, the Bears might be wise to consider the development of Shaheen a priority over allowing veterans to eat up most of the playing time. But after a pair of winless games to start the season, that move probably won’t come in Week 3.