With the ability to play multiple desirable positions for NFL teams trying to stop a growing number of prolific passing offenses, Boise State OLB-DE Shea McClellin stands a good chance of being drafted in Round One on Thursday night. The 6-3 3/8, 260-pound McClellin, who notched 16½ sacks in his final two seasons for the Broncos, is projected to go No. 27 overall to New England in PFW personnel analyst Nolan Nawrocki’s final mock draft.
A hint of McClellin’s draft standing came when he was one of 26 prospects invited to New York by the league.
“I never really even thought about being invited for a second to New York, but it kind of just happened, it kind of just popped out of the blue one day,” said McClellin, who will be joined by his grandparents, uncle and girlfriend on Draft Day. “They invited me, and I thought it would be a good experience for not only me, but my family.”
As the draft neared, we caught up with the 22-year-old McClellin to learn more about a prospect whose stock has risen significantly since season’s end. Here’s what we gathered:
• Some of his pre-draft training was with a … sportswriter? Yes, indeed, though we’re not talking about any sportswriter; Fox’s Jay Glazer has carved out dual roles as an NFL reporter and a mixed-martial arts trainer who has worked with numerous players, including the Packers’ Clay Matthews. The work with Glazer, McClellin said, was to “work on getting more violent, vicious with our hands and striking, that kind of thing. I think it definitely helped out a little bit, and I think it was a great experience.” As McClellin noted, “Hand-to-hand combat is definitely one of the most important things when you’re getting after the quarterback, rushing the passer.”
• McClellin counts Matthews, the Packers’ star outside linebacker, as among the players whom he admires. “He’s a great player. He can do a lot of things, and he does them all well.”
• McClellin’s strengths, in his view, are his competitiveness, pass-rush ability and versatility. (You can read Nawrocki’s scouting report on McClellin here.)
• McClellin on his versatility, which might be his defining trait as a prospect: “It definitely helps me out a lot, being able to play multiple positions, putting my hand in the dirt, standing up, (playing) in coverage. I think it's probably the biggest thing that helps me out as far as the draft goes. No question that helps me out.”
• What does McClellin need to improve upon? “I could work on my strike. That’s definitely something I need to work on. Just being more violent. I think upper-body strength, too.”
• McClellin grew up on a farm in Caldwell, Idaho. He was raised by his grandparents, who had variety of animals on the farm. “My grandpa just wanted to keep the weeds down in our pasture, so we had donkeys and cattle,” McClellin said. “… Once we got some cattle, we got a bull in there every year, bred the cattle and sold the babies.”
• The family also raised rescue animals, usually young ones who had lost their mothers. “We’d always get a bunch of wild ducks and geese, Canadian geese. Wood ducks, that kind of thing. We had a bunch of those,” McClellin said. “We had a couple skunks a couple times, and then a fox once. After they were old enough, we let them out of the pens and let them loose in our pasture.”
• What did he take from his upbringing? “You’ve got to work on the farm. There’s always work to be done. Everyday, there’s always something new. Another thing it taught me is to just be humble. … I just try to be as humble as I can (and) not get a big head.”