Summary: McClellin has been one of the draft prospects who has seen a late surge in their stock as teams get in the final days of setting their draft board. In the past few weeks, McClellin's stock has been on fire to the point where he is getting discussed in the middle of the first round. The reason for McClellin's surge has been versatility. He can fit a 3-4 defense as an outside or inside linebacker who will contribute as a run defender while being a dangerous pass rusher.
McClellin recorded 50 tackles, seven sacks, 12.5 tackles for a loss, two interceptions, one forced fumble and a blocked kick in 2011. Aside from playing as a traditional defensive end, he lined up for the Broncos as both a stand-up rush linebacker and an inside linebacker. He could have had a bigger sack total if Boise State had let him rush the passer on every opportunity, but he dropped into pass coverage regularly. In his first game of the season, he vastly outplayed Georgia tackle/guard Cordy Glenn all night. McClellin's speed off the edge was too much for Glenn to handle.
McClellin projects as an ideal 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. He has the athletic ability to drop into coverage and play space. He is a fabulous edge rusher who will give offenses fits with how to slow him down coming around the corner. He also has the ability to play some inside linebacker to stuff runs and rush up the middle. McClellin's instincts are phenomenal, and they allow him to create splash plays. He could turn into a special perimeter linebacker who will impact game plans.
Player Comparison: Clay Matthews. It is hard to say that McClellin will turn into as good a pro as Matthews, but he has a similar style of play to the Packer star. Their games mirror each other with how versatile they are. Both are dangerous edge rushers who defend the run well. Both can drop into coverage and have the instincts that allow them to make splash plays. They are close to the same size, as Matthews (6-3, 255) is just a few pounds lighter than McClellin's Combine weight of 260 pounds. McClellin should go in the later half of the first round like Matthews in 2009.
NFL Matches: Dallas, New York Jets, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, New England
The Cowboys could surprise people by taking McClellin as they need an edge rusher to go opposite DeMarcus Ware in the long-term. The Jets are scouting hard outside linebackers, and McClellin would be a perfect scheme fit.
The Titans are looking to address the defensive line and they are rumored to have taken a liking to McClellin. He would be moved around from outside linebacker to defensive end in their 4-3 defense. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, needs some youth at linebacker, and McClellin could play inside and outside linebacker in the Steelers defense.
If all those teams pass on McClellin, it seems unlikely that Green Bay would do the same thing. They are reportedly hot after McClellin and sent a huge contingent to his Pro Day.
There is talk that a team plans on trading in front of Green Bay to take McClellin. The Patriots draft one spot ahead of Green Bay, so they won't have to do that. McClellin could be a good player to plug and play in New England. His versatility would be a throwback to Tedy Bruschi or Mike Vrabel for the Patriots. They badly need to upgrade their pass rush, and McClellin would do that.