I've been intrigued by Shea McClellin every since OCC's combine report on outside linebacker prospects and reading Wes Bunting's profile on McClellin. Links to those posts are below.
I watched plays from a few of McClellin's games, but focused mostly on the 2011 game versus Georgia, when McClellin faced off with likely first round pick Cordy Glenn. McClellin got the best of Glenn in that game in my opinion when the two were matched up and dominated the other Georgia OT when he was matched up on the RT. McClellin also played several plays from the inside linebacker position. McClellin offers great flexibility with proven experience playing all of the linebacker positions. McClellin offers much more than just flexibility, however. In my opinion, he is by far a better prospect for the Cowboys than Courtney Upshaw.
Production: McClellin played all 13 games in each of his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons at Boise State. His sack numbers were 3, 8.5, and 7. His tackle for loss numbers were 6, 12.5, and 12.5.
Video Analysis: You can see on tape that McClellin possesses a good first step, a non-stop motor, good strength at the point of attack, and good quickness and agility. He beat offensive tackles on outside speed rushes, to the inside, on stunts, and got a decent push on a few bull rushes. While watching the Georgia game, I didn't see one play where I thought he had a bad play. He wasn't pushed back on running plays, didn't get beat in coverage, and didn't miss a tackle. He also made several positive plays and consistently put pressure on the QB. Specific plays of note are listed below, with the times being the time on the You Tube video linked below:
0:58 - Good strength to hold up vs the run.
1:19 - Shows good strength at the point and fought off the block.
1:35 - For the 60 yard TD run by Georgia, McClellan was NOT on the field.
2:54 - Blows right past Cordy Glenn with a speed rush and gets the sack even after Glenn grabs him and tries to pull him down.
3:50 - While playing RILB, times the blitz well and gets quick pressure on the QB.
5:28 - Fights through 2 blockers to get pressure on a QB rollout.
5:45 - Playing inside linebacker, blitzes, beats the OG with quickness, showing good instincts in getting through the trash to get quick pressure.
6:10 - Again shows good stoutness at the point of attack vs. the run.
7:35 - The closest thing to a negative play; the TE sealed him off to the outside and he was unable to shed.
8:30 - Lined up at ILB, again shows good timing on the blitz, shows a strong bull rush and gets another sack.
10:10 - Lined up at strong side DE in a 4-3, shows his quickness/lateral agility with a nice inside move to blow by the OT and get quick pressure.
11:10 - Uses a nice punch on Glenn to create separation and gets quick pressure on the QB.
11:30 - Sets up the RT with an outside rush and uses quickness to beat him inside.
13:05 - Was not on the field for several plays; first play after returning gets good pressure on a stunt.
13:30 - Shows good burst on a stunt and gets another sack.
I am officially naming McClellin my pet cat. He kind of reminds me of JJ Watt when he rushes the passer and it is ironic that he looks like him too. Granted he is 30 pounds lighter and plays faster, but the type of pass rush is similar in my opinion.
Draft Projections: His draft stock is making a post season surge similar to Watt's surge last year. Two months ago he was thought of as a 3rd to 5th round pick. I've heard from two media sources that the Packers are targeting McClellin with their pick in the first round, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if a team like Tennessee or Detroit grabbed him earlier than the Packers spot. I think he would fit a wide 9 type of defense as a DE as well as a 3-4 team as an OLB with the flexibility to play ILB. I hope the Packers don't get him, because pairing him with Matthews would be scary for offenses.
Athleticism: McClellin showed good athleticism and surprised people at the combine. Refer to the first link above.
How he would fit in Dallas: In my opinion, McClellin should be more productive than Spencer by his second season, and I wouldn't be shocked if he was as good or better than Spencer as a rookie. Being able to obtain a 2013 replacement for Spencer with a 2012 draft pick would give the Cowboys much needed cap space by allowing the team to not feel compelled to pay Spencer after this season. The Cowboys would also be credited in the formula for compensatory picks for the free agent contract Spencer would sign with another team. McClellan lined up on the left side for the majority of the snaps in the videos I watched, which would lessen his transition. I could also see McClellin offering Rob Ryan added flexibility as an ILB who can play the run, blitz, and cover. As good as Sean Lee is, McClellin could add a lot as a nickel ILB with blitzing prowess while giving Lee much needed breaks.
Cost to obtain: I still like Melvin Ingram as the top OLB prospect for the boys, but I expect him to be selected before the 14th pick, and Dallas could likely trade down and still get McClellin along with some extra draft picks. As I wrote earlier, I would take McClellin over Upshaw. I don't think Upshaw has the fluidity to cover as a 3-4 OLB. I see him as a pure DL and I wouldn't be surprise, with his body type, if he gains enough weight to eventually kick inside to DT ala Keith McCants (1990 4th overall pick).
What do you think, BTB readers? See the poll below.