Today's prospect spotlight focuses on a linebacker who is rocketing up draft boards as we approach next week's NFL draft—Boise State linebacker Shea McClellin.
Unfortunately I don't have my own video to accompany this spotlight, but there are plenty of great highlights to go with this column anyway, so check them out.
McClellin is a big, well-built prospect who shows an explosive first step, whether playing with his hand in the dirt or while standing up. He played at a ton of different spots for Boise—both standing up and with his hand down, coming from the outside or blitzing inside.
He has the speed to threaten off the edge from the outside, and coupled with his explosive first step and instinctive timing of the snap count, he could be a terror on the attack.
McClellin's got multiple tools in his pass-rush arsenal as well and knows how to press a quarterback from multiple spots in multiple ways. He is also savvy in how he sets up pre-snap—quarterbacks often have issues reading what he will do.
Boise had him drop into coverage as well, and I thought he did very well in man coverage.
Against the run, McClellin moves well for a guy his size and can violently shed blocks to get to the ball-carrier, though often he tries to move around a block which can be an issue (see below).
Generally, though, he's able to get clean and continue pursuit.
In both instances where he played against the pass and the run, I saw him constantly moving and was really impressed with his motor. He never gives up on a play and goes snap to whistle at full effort.
He can get a bit upright at times, which costs him leverage, and in those instances I saw him have to fight much harder to get off the blocks he faced. His balance and strength often helped him overcome it at the collegiate level, but that probably won't fly in the pros.
I mentioned seeing him try to go around blocks, and when he does, he sometimes gets moved out of the play completely, spending more time avoiding the block than getting to the ball or quarterback.
At times he seemed a bit stiff. He isn't terribly flexible but he overcomes this with excellent technique. He can get his pad level very low and sinks his hips to get around the corner with the best of them.
There's very little to dislike with McClellin. He has a tremendous motor, can get to the quarterback and is ferocious against both the run and pass.
If you stop him one way, he will find another way to beat you on the next snap. And if you stifle him for a series, he comes back the next series with twice as much intensity.
Why the NFC North Should Care
The NFC North should care for two reasons. First, because he will be available for the Lions, Bears and Packers at the end of the first and potentially the Vikings at the top of the second. While outside linebacker isn't a high priority for either of the first two, he should be a consideration anyway—he's that good.
The Vikings should consider him as well, as they can always use another pass-rusher to keep that core of the defense going. Considering that they have a few players taking over new and/or full responsibilities they haven't done before, McClellin would be a good addition there as well in the second round.
The Packers are desperate for a player to appear opposite Clay Matthews and produce. It's become the likeliest possibility if he's ending up in the North.
Which brings me to the second point: There is a very good chance you are going to see him a lot in the coming years. Not only if he goes to a NFC North team, but if he goes anywhere in the NFC at all.
Plenty of teams need a high-motor outside linebacker like McClellin.
If he produces to his potential, teams are going to want to know what he can do and how they might stop him.