Rolando McClain is a talented young middle linebacker. The 2010 1st round pick, 8th overall, was ProFootballFocus’ 26th rated middle linebacker last season and would have been much higher rated if he didn’t struggle so much in coverage. Still only heading into his age 23 season, he’s got a ton of upside, but he’s also got a major cloud hanging over his head with his legal troubles.
McClain was sentenced to 6 months in jail on 3rd degree assault with a deadly weapon charges in May, after holding a loaded gun to another man’s head and firing a shot past his ear last year. However, he has appealed the charges, so he will not have to serve time just yet and may get a reduced sentence or even get the sentence dropped completely. According to the Contra Costa Times, McClain has not heard anything about a possible suspension from the NFL and he’s taking no news as good news and rightfully so. It appears the NFL is waiting to see the results of the appeal before making any decision on discipline.
Still, it’s a concerning situation for McClain and the Raiders, even though GM Reggie McKenzie says he’s “comfortable” with McClain. Once McClain’s appeal is over, he could very well have to serve jail time and that could be in the middle of the season. After that, he could be given a suspension by the league, even if he is able to serve his jail time in the offseason, as players have been able to do in the past. My money would be on McClain not playing all 16 games.
Any time he misses would hurt the Raiders defense, obviously, as inexperienced 2010 6th round pick Travis Goethel would have to step in for him. The Raiders are already missing their top cornerback and top pass rusher from a defense that ranked 29th in scoring last year. They weren’t replaced. Also missing is starter Aaron Curry with injury, forcing 4th round rookie Miles Burris into the lineup for him, while defensive tackles Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly are heading into their age 33 seasons, with the former suffering from knee problems. It should be a tough year for the Raiders on that side of the football.