2012 NFL Draft: Could Shea McClellin Sneak into Round 1?

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2012 NFL Draft: Could Shea McClellin Sneak into Round 1?

Every April, several players with "red flags" dramatically fall down draft boards.

On the other hand, players considered "safe picks" sneak into the first round.

Boise State's Shea McClellin could be an example of a riser late in the draft process.

McClellin has been a personal favorite of mine throughout the months leading up to the draft due in large part to his never-ending motor and try-hard attitude.

When picking in the first round, teams want assurance that their selection will stay motivated despite the fame and fortune that comes along with being a professional football player. Raised on a farm in Idaho, McClellin has a superb work ethic and his game film reflects that.

NFL Network's Mike Mayock updated his positional rankings, and there are a couple noticeable changes. Behind potential top-ten pick Melvin Ingram, Mayock lists Shea McClellin as the second-best outside linebacker in the 2012 NFL Draft.

According to Mayock, McClellin is ahead of two likely first-round picks—Illinois's Whitney Mercilus and Clemson's Andre Branch.

Other than having a motor reminiscent of the Energizer Bunny, the most attractive part about Shea McClellin is his versatility. Although he played primarily defensive end at Boise State, McClellin has experience playing off the ball and practiced at inside linebacker all week at the Senior Bowl.

With teams in need of a pass rusher picking late in round one, such as the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots, McClellin could potentially come off the board in the first 32 picks.

In my player rankings for this year's draft, McClellin is listed as the 42nd-best player in the draft. That would put him in the early second round region; however, if a team like Green Bay or New England feels like he's worth their first-round selection, then it wouldn't really be a "reach."

Assuming Melvin Ingram, Courtney Upshaw and Nick Perry are gone, it's a legitimate question as to who the next best pass rusher is.

Would you rather have Andre Branch or Whitney Mercilus?

Whitney Mercilus or Shea McClellin?

There are questions about Mercilus being a one-year wonder at Illinois, and it's no certainty that he'll be able to effectively transition to outside linebacker after playing as a down linemen in college.

McClellin, on the other hand, has experience rushing the passer from an upright position as well as with his hand in the ground, and he looks like a natural fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Much like how South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore will likely be the second cornerback selected (due largely to question marks surrounding Dre Kirkpatrick and Janoris Jenkins), Shea McClellin could enjoy a similar fate.

It pays to be a "high-character" guy in today's NFL, and there are no concerns with McClellin between the ears.

With less than a month to go before draft day, Shea McClellin is enjoying a steady rise up draft boards. The result? A much heavier wallet.

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