Of the four Chicago Bears tight ends who saw at least 200 offensive snaps in 2017 – Zach Miller, Dion Sims, Daniel Brown, and Adam Shaheen – only two are under contract for next season (Sims and Shaheen). And of those two, Shaheen is beginning to stand out.
The NFL1000 scouting team at Bleacher Report ranked the top 87 tight ends in football and while Zach Miller technically checks in as the best among the Bears quartet, it’s Adam Shaheen’s profile that stands out the most (plus Miller is a free agent and might never play again, so …).
Overall, Shaheen ranks 59th, which doesn’t put him in great standing in the grand scheme of things, but the snapshot of his season is everything you’d want it to be. BR’s scouting staff writes that Shaheen “clearly has the potential to be a dominating force in the running and passing games” and noted he had his impressive moments as an inline blocker, too (remember when he sprung Jordan Howard’s game-winning touchdown). Of course, he wasn’t without his rookie-moments. According to the scouts Shaheen was so green as a receiver, it was difficult to have him on the field for many passing snaps (which is something we often raged against throughout the season).
Obviously, given our frequent rage (what can we say, we believed in the kid), the Bears force fed Shaheen into a block-first role as a rookie, but opened him up incrementally as the season progressed. Indeed, he looked like he was ready to break out after Week 11 when his performance against the Detroit Lions was good enough to earn Pro Football Focus’ best grade for a tight end in that week’s games. Still, his exposure (or lack of it) to the passing game limited him to 76 total passing snaps this season. That’s disappointingly low considering Shaheen was also a force in the red zone, where 11 of his 14 targets were thrown — three of which were hauled in for touchdowns.
Elsewhere on the rankings, you can’t help but wonder if Zach Miller could have been that player for the Bears, too – he ranked 22nd overall and was a playmaker in the passing offense and arguably the team’s best run blocker – but his gruesome midseason knee injury has put his future in the NFL in jeopardy. Having the 1-2 punch of Shaheen’s size and power and Miller’s savvy veteran presence in both phases of the offense would have been ideal going into 2018, but it’s not going to happen.
Cntinuing, free agent addition Dion Sims was the biggest disappointment among the group. Sims didn’t offer much as a receiver and struggled with small/fast defenders who were able to get by him when he was a blocker. After Miller went down with his season-ending injury, BR’s scouts saw Sims struggle as the Bears’ top tight end and added he should only play on running downs. Other than that, everything is fine.
Tight end doesn’t jump out as a need for the Bears in 2018 because of the investments the team made in Sims and Shaheen, but their production left much to be desired. After seeing how important Travis Kelce was to the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense run by Matt Nagy, it would behoove the Bears to consider re-shaping the room for 2018 in order to maximize the offense’s output.