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When Nick Saban says that a player is the best defensive player he's ever coached, it would be wise to take a look at that player. Saban was speaking of LB Rolando McClain. Just like Patrick Willis and Aaron Curry, McClain is clearly the top linebacker in his class. Where McClain really excels is his Peyton Manning-esque way of breaking down a play. You can see him read what a QB is doing, making proper adjustments, take the perfect angle, and then deliver a big hit
However, much has been made of McClains less than impressive measurables. McClain ran somewhere between a 4.69 and 4.74 40 at his Pro Day. Although that cerrtainly isn't terrible (I'm looking at you and your 5.0 40, Brandon Spikes), it does lead you to question whether he can make lateral plays or not.
Another issue is whether McClain's skill set can transfer over to a 4-3 or not. McClain himself said ," I played a 4-3 in high school and 3-4 under Coach Saban. I'm a lot better in the 3-4, but Saban's defense is known for being good. But yes, I was better in the 3-4 defense." It is almost out of the question that McClain could play an outside linebacker position with his lack of speed. Even then, could he play as a middle linebacker in a 4-3?
I believe he can. Any linebacker that possesses the instincts and desire that McClain has can excel in either a 4-3 or a 3-4. As long as he's not going to be asked to cover Dallas Clark or Owen Daniels, McClain would excel at the middle linebacker spot in Jacksonville.
Video Killed the Scouting Report
Rolando McClain: By The Numbers
|At A Glance|
Position 1: Linebacker
Position 2: N/A
|Class: Junior||Age: 21|
Projected Round: 1st
2009 Butkus Award Winner (Nation's Top Linebacker)
2009 First Team All-American
2008, 2009 First Team All-SEC
2009 Lombari Award Finalist
According to the Experts
Recognition skills are at an elite level. Is never out of place, which makes his burst and athleticism seem even more impressive. Doesn't get fooled by play-action and quickly recognizes blocking schemes. McClain is perhaps the premier run-stopping linebacker in the draft. He's strong and rangy. Playing on the inside, McClain doesn't wait for the ball carrier to come at him, he attacks.
Hands are nothing special. Needs to become a little more technically sound shedding blocks.
Outstanding instincts, excellent tackling technique, very good pass rusher
Questionable as a 4-3 MLB. The lateral range is just not there for me. He could be exposed when he overpursues.