Tuesday, April 24, 2012
More on the Upshaw-McClellin decision
By Kevin Seifert
As our ESPN.com blogger mock draft 2.0 reached the bottom of the first round, I had an unexpected decision to make. I wanted to get the Green Bay Packers an outside linebacker who could enhance their pass rush, and when the No. 28 pick arrived, I had a choice between Alabama's Courtney Upshaw and Boise State's Shea McClellin.
I had targeted McClellin before the draft as among a handful of players I figured to be choosing from at No. 28. Upshaw wasn't on that list, mostly because I thought he would be drafted by that point. After a few minutes of toggling back and forth, I stuck with my original intent and drafted McClellin.
AFC North colleague Jamison Hensley then gleefully grabbed Upshaw for the Baltimore Ravens at No. 29. So did I make a classic draft mistake by not adjusting after an unexpected turn of events? Can you make a football argument for McClellin over one of the best players on Alabama's championship defense? Or is it a moot point, considering the slim likelihood that both players will be on the real draft board when the real Packers make the real selection at No. 28 in the real draft on Thursday?
I reached out to Steve Muench, who spends the year evaluating college talent for Scouts Inc. Steve said he would also have taken McClellin for the Packers and offered this reasoning:
Upshaw is tough and he sets the edge well. He's also a relentless pass rusher from a big-time program. He is going to be a good player but the Packers need pass rush help and McClellin projects as the better pass-rusher. He's more explosive, he bends better and he closes better. That's why he makes more sense if both are available.
Your reactions were mixed via Twitter.
@PackerRanter thought "most would be happy with either."
@MJEversoll was "surprised both were available, but I agree [Ted Thompson] would take McClellin over Upshaw. Right choice."
@Z_Kool thought McClellin "seems like a GB kid, like the pick."
@bradygoble, on the other hand, thought "Upshaw is the better choice. Harder hitter and can get to the QB faster."
At some level, we're probably all guilty of some stereotyping here. If you read what Muench said, and watch the Todd McShay's draft minute on Upshaw, it's probably unfair to assume that the big-school Upshaw is the better athlete and that McClellin, from a smaller school, is the better technician. The media analysts who know more about this than we do suggest McClellin has better athletic traits as a pass-rusher, which is the primary place the Packers would use a first-round linebacker.
I'm of course open to further opinions from you, but I actually feel better about my choice today than yesterday. Carry on.