BOISE, ID - DECEMBER 03: Shea McClellin #92 of the Boise State Broncos reacts after a play against the New Mexico Lobos at Bronco Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Boise, Idaho. (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)
The NFL Draft story of Boise State linebacker Shea McClellin is something you see in a Disney movie some day. A small-town kid who grew up nursing abandoned wildlife back to health (really) excels as a defensive end on his local college's football team where NFL scouts notice his versatility and, throughout an arduous draft process, the small-town kid rises to become a first-round NFL draft pick. Starring Mark Wahlberg as Shea McClellin, Brad Pitt as Chris Petersen, with Nicholas Cage as Robb Akey.
McClellin was far from the top Boise State prospect at the beginning of the 2011 college football season, and he wasn't near the top when the season ended, either. But a stellar Senior Bowl, fantastic combine, solid workouts, and the discovery of his versatility (catnip to NFL scouts), he is a borderline Day One pick and will be sitting in the green room in New York, waiting to hear his name called. I hear they might serve Chick-fil-a.
When to start getting excited about McClellin coming off the board. He could be drafted late Thursday night toward the end of the first round. If not, then expect him to go early in the second.
Potentially interested teams. Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots in Round One, everyone and their mother in Round Two.
Where the experts think McClellin will go. Draft expert and hair spray tester Mel Kiper has McClellin off the board at pick No. 27 to the New England Patriots. Kiper archnemesis and ESPN co-worker Todd McShay sees the Packers as an option in Round One. NFL.com analyst Mike Mayock eschews mock drafts in favor of position rankings, where he has McClellin as the No. 2 outside linebacker behind South Carolina's Melvin Ingram.
Where Sports Illustrated's Peter King thinks McClellin will go. King does not have McClellin going in the first round of his mock draft, but like with any good piece of Peter King journalism, he hedges his bets by saying that, although he doesn't think the Patriots at pick No. 31 or the Giants at pick No. 32 will take McClellin, he thinks both teams should take McClellin. Also Starbucks won't put Magic Shell on their frappe drinks, but they should.
McClellin alternatives. If teams don't want to draft the Boise Stater, they are dumb, and they may choose instead to take Ingram, Syracuse's Whitney Mercilus, USC's Nick Reed, or Clemson's Andre Branch.
Biggest strength. Versatility. McClellin worked out at inside linebacker at the Senior Bowl, and NFL teams can see him playing that hybrid OLB / DE in the 3-4 schemes that so many teams run. Or, he could just pin his ears back and rush the passer, like he was born to do.
Biggest weakness. He cares too much (also, lacks prototypical NFL size).
Idaho Press-Tribune headline pun the morning after the draft. "Packers jellin' with McClellin"