Packers: Shea McClellin Could Be a Great Complement to Matthews
Clay and Shea. Matthews and McClellin.
However you want to phrase it, it sounds like a dynamic duo.
The Packers were underwhelmed last season with the production they got out of their right outside linebackers. Green Bay relied on a rotation of Erik Walden, Frank Zombo, and Brad Jones at the position, and nobody separated himself from the pack to grab the starting job.
While the Packers have a huge need on the defensive line, the team's biggest hole is across from Clay Matthews at right outside linebacker.
Melvin Ingram could be selected in the first 10 picks, and Courtney Upshaw figures to come off the board somewhere in the middle of round one. USC's Nick Perry and Illinois's Whitney Mercilus will get looks from both 3-4 teams and 4-3 teams in the middle-to-late first round. It's possible that one of the two will be on the board at 28 overall, but it's unlikely that both will be.
In all likelihood, the Packers will face a tough choice when they're on the clock at the end of round one.
Clemson's Andre Branch figures to go late in round one or early in round two, and his experience dropping into coverage is attractive to 3-4 teams. However, it's certainly not a given that Packers GM Ted Thompson views him or any of the other aforementioned players as a good fit in Green Bay's scheme.
At the end of the round one, there should be some value available on the defensive line. The top defensive tackles would transition to defensive end in Green Bay's 3-4 scheme, but several options should be available when the team makes its first pick.
Dontari Poe, Fletcher Cox and Michael Brockers more than likely will all be selected in the first 27 picks. One or several late-first round prospects like Devon Still, Jerel Worthy and Kendall Reyes should be available by the time the Packers are on the clock.
With the uncertainty surrounding the future of safety Nick Collins, the Packers may try to address their defensive backfield with a look at Notre Dame's Harrison Smith. Having experience at linebacker, Smith is a physical safety who surprised a lot of people with his athleticism at this year's combine.
No matter who the Packers take with their first pick, if it's not an outside linebacker then they'll be forced to address their biggest need later in the draft.
Green Bay would love to have another Clay Matthews, but it'd settle for another reliable, high motor outside linebacker.
While the Matthews family could be labeled the "First Family of Football," Boise State's Shea McClellin traveled a far different path to the NFL.
At just 18 months old, Shea was adopted by his maternal grandparents, Terry and Jerry McClellin. He currently has a relationship with his mother but not with his father. McClellin grew up on the family farm in Idaho where he worked long, hard days along with his family.
He attended Marsing High School, a school with approximately 250 students in grades nine through 12. McClellin lettered in football, basketball and baseball at Marsing before graduating in 2007.
While he enjoyed a stellar all-around athletic career in high school, McClellin's most impressive season was his senior year in football. On top of racking up 126 tackles and seven defensive touchdowns, McClellin ran for over 1,800 yards and 22 touchdowns before being named both the offensive and defensive player of the year for 2006.
Out of high school, he received some attention from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Idaho State, but it didn't take long for McClellin to commit to Boise State.
A starter for the better part of three seasons, McClellin became a fan favorite in Boise for his relentless motor. McClellin played defensive end for Boise State, where he registered 20.5 sacks in his collegiate career.
In the three years McClellin was a starter, Boise State enjoyed victories in the Fiesta Bowl in 2009 and the Las Vegas Bowl in both 2010 and 2011.
Although he played in a three-point stance at Boise, most think his best position in the NFL is at outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. At 6' 3" 260 pounds, McClellin has a similar build to Clay Matthews, though Matthews is the better athlete.
When he went to the Senior Bowl after the 2011 season, the coaching staff of the Minnesota Vikings tried McClellin at linebacker. Playing the position for the first time since stepping onto campus four years earlier, McClellin drew rave reviews for his nimbleness and natural instincts while playing off the line of scrimmage.
McClellin will likely be selected in the latter portion of round two or the beginning of the third round.
Green Bay was slated to pick 60th at the end of round two, but the Saints' "bounty-gate" scandal has moved the Packers' second pick up to 59th overall. Most draft-niks figure this is about the time when McClellin could come off the board.
I have McClellin as the 35th best player in the 2012 draft, but I have a slightly higher opinion of him than most draft analysts I've seen.
If McClellin is available when the Green Bay is on the clock in round two, it just may be a perfect match. The Packers simply can't rely on its rotation of Walden, Zombo and Jones if they want a consistent pass rush out of their base 3-4 scheme.
Clay Matthews is clearly one of only several of the league's elite players at the position, and it'd be stretch to say that McClellin will one day become quite that good.
However, there is one key similarity between the two pass rushers—their relentless motors.
One thing is for certain, no matter what you think of McClellin as a football player, "Shea and Clay" sounds like a match made in football heaven.
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