What is bound to be a record weekend got off to a historic start for the Boise State football team.
With two first-round NFL draft picks in school history prior to Thursday’s opening round, the Broncos doubled that mark, kicking off what will be the team’s largest draft class ever.
Defensive end Shea McClellin was selected 19th overall by the Chicago Bears, and running back Doug Martin was taken 31st by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Shea and Doug’s selection in the first round is a testimony to the hard work and commitment they have shown throughout their career as Broncos,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. “We are excited for both players and know they will do an outstanding job representing Boise State.”
Only Ryan Clady (12th in 2008) and Kyle Wilson (29th in 2010) had been taken in the first round after their careers at Boise State. The Broncos’ two first-round picks marked the first time a school outside a BCS conference had two first-round picks since Jackson State in 2000.
McClellin, the Marsing High graduate, shot up draft boards after a strong senior season (seven sacks) and in the Senior Bowl, where he worked out as a linebacker. Teams salivated at his versatility, but in the end, the Bears took him to play on the line, where he spent most of his Boise State career.
“This pass rusher, we felt very good about,” Bears general manager Phil Emery said. “He showed us things that the other ends did not show us.
“He is a great character fit for us. We feel this is an excellent pick for us.”
Emery expects McClellin to be part of a rotation at defensive end that includes Pro Bowler Julius Peppers (11 sacks last season) and Israel Idonije (five sacks). The Bears have a top-notch linebacking corps with Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs leading the way.
“It’s unbelievable to play alongside guys like Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher,” McClellin said on a teleconference with Chicago media. “It’s really gonna be great and I can’t wait to get out there. I knew if I went to Chicago I would be getting after the quarterback, rushing the passer a lot.”
Emery said McClellin also received the highest grade for special teams, which means he likely will be teamed up with former Bronco Winston Venable on the kicking units. He’ll wear No. 99.
Twelve picks after McClellin was taken, the Buccaneers traded up from 36th in the second round into the first round at No. 31, and swapped fourth round picks with New England. With that pick, they took Martin, who fits the Buccaneers’ mold under new coach Greg Schiano.
Schiano coached Ray Rice at Rutgers, and Martin has often been compared to Rice, the Baltimore Ravens’ standout running back. The Buccaneers have former Oregon back LeGarrette Blount, but Blount has struggled in pass blocking and receiving.
“The thing I like about Doug Martin — he can play in any situation, he’s a very good all-purpose back,” ESPN’s Jon Gruden said.
Martin was the second running back taken, after Alabama’s Trent Richardson went third overall to the Cleveland Browns. While Richardson was seen as by far the top back in the draft, Martin’s mix of size (220 pounds) and versatility (28 catches each of the last two seasons, plus a kickoff return TD in his final game) were enough to solidify him as the second rusher taken.
“What I like about Doug Martin is he helps you in special teams as well,” Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk said on the NFL Network. “He can help you everywhere on the football field. This is a great pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.”
The draft resumes today at 5 p.m. with the second and third rounds. Former Broncos Billy Winn, Tyrone Crawford, George Iloka and Nate Potter are possibilities to be selected today. The most picks Boise State has produced in a single draft is four, in 2007.