The Packers' First Pick?: One Clear Favorite

Barring a trade, the Packers will be making their first-round pick sometime around 10 p.m. Will it be the rather obvious choice of Shea McClellin? Will it be a semiobvious choice? Or — and speaking of trades — this one will blow your mind. Here's what we're hearing.

The time is almost at hand.

We've broken down the NFL Draft forward, backward and inside-out. Nobody had better position previews than we did, thanks to the four decades of insight brought to the table by Dave-Te' Thomas, who heads up the NFL's scouting arm. Nobody brought you more draft scoops, from Scouting Combine interviews to predraft visits.

Now, it's time for the obligatory blindfolded stab at who the Green Bay Packers will select with the 28th pick of the first round tonight.

Before the first round of last year's draft, I said the Packers wanted Derek Sherrod or Mikel Leshoure.

This year, I've got three names for you. One of them is blatantly obvious. The second is semiobvious. The third will blow your socks off.

The first is Shea McClellin, the outside linebacker prospect from Boise State. I haven't looked at a single mock draft all year and I won't start now, but my guess is he's just about everyone's pick for the Packers.

"He's a poor man's Clay Matthews," Thomas has told me any number of times.

The Packers desperately need a pass rush. Green Bay got practically nothing from anyone other than Matthews last season. Say what you want about the play of Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Charles Woodson and Charlie Peprah as the Packers posted the worst pass defense in the history of the NFL, but it's a hell of a lot easier to cover when the quarterback has 2 seconds to throw it instead of 3 and 4 and 5 seconds. Green Bay's sacks per passing attempt was the worst in the league. With no rush, the Packers backed away from their preferred press-man coverage and got eaten alive in off-coverage and zone.

In three seasons in Boise State's lineup, McClellin had 20.5 sacks and 33 tackles for losses.

"McClellin is more than likely to shift to outside linebacker at the pro level, thanks to his superb athleticism, nonstop motor, lateral agility and closing speed," Thomas wrote. "He often lined up in a standing position and is a highly instinctive performer whose ability to play in a variety of roles is due to his ability to easily acclimate to any assignment given to him by the staff."

Why McClellin? Alabama's Courtney Upshaw isn't physical enough. Alabama's Dont'a Hightower wants to stay inside and USC's Nick Perry prefers to play end in a 4-3 scheme. Illinois' Whitney Mercilus and Marshall's Vinny Curry are considered better 4-3 end candidates. And, unless we're totally misreading what we've heard, there seems to be no interest in Clemson's Allen Branch.

As for McClellin, he's played the position, which is a huge plus. He's tough, smart and has a great motor, which fits Kevin Greene's mold. Remember 2009, when the Packers were transitioning to Dom Capers' defense? Ted Thompson asked Greene who he liked among the outside linebackers. Greene said the only one he liked was Matthews. Thompson traded back into the first round to get Matthews. Given McClellin's attributes, it's probably a safe bet than Greene loves McClellin's game.

The semiobvious choice is Wisconsin center Peter Konz. The Packers signed Jeff Saturday as a short-term fix after losing Scott Wells. Konz is the long-term answer.

Personally, Konz's injury history should have the alarms sounding and the sirens flashing. In three years at Wisconsin, Konz never got through a season unscathed and missed seven full games. If I need a center, I'm taking Konz's teammate, Kevin Zeitler, and giving him a year to learn the position behind Saturday. Or I take Baylor's Philip Blake or Derek Sherrod's former Mississippi State teammate, Quentin Saulsberry, in the fourth or fifth.

Here's the one that will blow your mind.

During his Wednesday chat, Thomas said the Packers will be keeping en eye on LSU's Michael Brockers, a fact we confirmed with a separate source. Brockers (6-5, 322) was dominant at LSU and is considered one of the three best defensive linemen in the draft with Fletcher Cox and Quinton Coples. Put Brockers with Raji and Ryan Pickett, and the Packers' defensive line becomes a juggernaut.

Brockers redshirted in 2009, played as a reserve in 2010 and was a first-team All-American in 2011 from the NFL Draft Report, which is made up of NFL scouts. According to Thomas and the source, some of the teams sitting in the top half of the draft are worried about Brockers' body of work essentially being one season.

According to our sources, the Packers will monitor Brockers to see if he falls. What wasn't said — and didn't need to be said — is the Packers would consider moving up to get him if he got within striking distance.

Gun-to-head for a prediction, we're going with McClellin, even if it takes a trade up to get him. That said, don't be surprised if the Packers trade back and grab Harrison Smith or Casey Hayward to play safety.

What does that do for the outside linebacker position? If the Packers don't get McClellin tonight, we'll tell you two possibilities before Friday's second round begins.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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