Originally posted on Midway Illustrated  |  Last updated 6/14/12

The Bears drafted defensive end Shea McClellin to eventually start opposite Julius Peppers and to become a key cog in the future of the Bears' defense. Any first round draft pick represents the future of the franchise a player who should be successful at a high level for a number of years.

The Bears also have Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije as the current starters on the roster, and both are entrenched at the position.  Peppers is a perennial Pro Bowl player who has shown absolutely no signs of slowing down, in fact he seems to be getting better.

So where does this leave defensive end Corey Wootton, a once promising prospect who has spent more time injured, than  he has playing on the field?  Wootton has the size and athletic ability to start and be a long time starter in the NFL.  At 6-foot-6 270-pounds Wootton has shown the talent to be a good player in the NFL.  With what we have seen of Wootton it's apparent he could be a starter, the obvious question surrounds his knee injuries.

Wootton has struggled with knee problems since his college days.  A once promising career has been sidetracked by  injuries to his knee. The question that now needs to be answered is can Wootton stay healthy?

The best answer is to assume that Wootton is healthy and can be a play maker on this team.  Wootton should beat out veteran journeyman Chauncey Davis for the fourth DE spot, and from there he should be the guy who takes over for Israel Idonije sooner rather than later.

Idonije has one year left on his contract and then he's a 32-year-old free agent whose career in Chicago would seem to be over.  Idonije has been a sturdy player both as a backup and as a starter but he's hit his ceiling and it makes smart business sense to move on from the veteran and focus on building around a younger replacement.

The younger replacement is either McClellin or Wootton, but the Bears are smart to have two players competing for the starting job instead of just handing it over to McClellin.  There's obviously no reason to believe that McClellin would rest on his first round laurels given his character makeup, but it's best to have strong young competition on the roster.

Competition makes everyone on the team better and right now the key competition should be between McClellin and Wootton.  The next most obvious question would be if Wootton can step up and play at a high level could he eventually be a legitimate option to start opposite McClellin?

Julius Peppers is getting up there in age and his salary is such that if Wootton can play at a solid starter's level of play could make it easier for the Bears to part ways with him near the end of his contract.  Obviously no one is expecting Wootton to replace one of the best pass rushers of the last decade, but a consistent threat off the edge or even a sturdy rotational option would benefit the Bears for a long time.

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