40 time: 4.69
Draft Board overall ranking: #7
Draft Board middle linebacker ranking: #1
Overall rating: 92*
1/23/10: 3-4 middle linebackers prospects rarely go top 10, but McClain might be an exception. At age 21, McClain is drawing some pretty warranted, though still premature, comparisons to Ray Lewis. In 3 years, McClain has 270 tackles, 5 picks, and 8 sacks. Beyond the numbers, I haven’t seen a linebacker as big as him move as well as he does. At 258 pounds, he was able to chase Tim Tebow down from behind and he could run a low 4.6 40. He’s a huge thumper and a great fundamental tackler. 270 tackles in 3 years doesn’t seem like much for a middle linebacker, but when you consider he’s a 3-4 middle linebacker and those 3 years were freshman-junior and not sophomore-senior, that’s impressive. Of all I have seen of him, he hasn’t done one thing one. He drops back into coverage with great skill already at his young age and he’s a former defensive end so he’ll be excellent on blitz packages in the NFL. Because he already has experience in a 3-4, there will be no major learning curve for him when a 3-4 team drafts him, but I do have some concerns about which positions he can play in a 4-3. I’m pretty sure he’ll fit as a 4-3 middle linebacker, but not sure about 4-3 strong outside linebacker.
11/8/09: Rolando McClain has that elite size, speed combination for a middle linebacker (low 4.6 40 at 255+ pounds) and has experience playing in a 3-4 defense and is drawing comparisons to other extremely athletic 3-4 middle linebackers like Patrick Willis and even Ray Lewis. He doesn’t have Willis’ 4.4 speed, but he is bigger and stronger than Willis and the Lewis comparison isn’t far off in terms of a ceiling. He is one of the few players I’ve watched and not seen him do anything technically wrong. He fills holes very well as a 3-4 middle linebacker which is very crucial to plug up the gaps that nose tackles don’t get to. He has amazing size to compliment this strong initial burst which makes him a very tough run blocker. He actually has a chance to get more athletic as he won’t be 21 until next July, roughly 2 or 3 months after the NFL draft so he has a chance to grow even more which is scary. He is a former defensive end, which is not a surprise because of his size, so he understands how to blitz and has 5 sacks in the last two years solely on middle linebacker blitzes which are very rare. He is capable of dropping back in coverage and his size makes him a tough matchup for smaller tight ends and he has the speed to keep up with tight ends in the open field. He doesn’t have perfect coverage skills, but one would hardly expect him to because of his position and his youth. He has 5 interceptions in 3 years which shows that he can flash soft hands as well. He is a real student of the game, like Lewis is, but he doesn’t have Lewis’ fire and explosion. He’s not a mean passionate player like Lewis is. He’s not a hard hitter, but he does have good fundamentals on his tackles, but he’s not going to knock the ball lose with jaw dropping hits. He’s a tackling machine that can get to guys in the open field and takes excellent routes to the ball. He had 91 tackles last season, which is a lot for a 3-4 middle linebacker. Brandon Spikes is the bigger name, but I would take McClain in a heartbeat over him if I were a 3-4 team and I would also draft McClain over Spikes if I were a 4-3 team because I believe he can be a big explosive middle linebacker in a 4-3 like Brian Urlacher if he has the right coaching.
NFL Comparison: Bart Scott
*=For a breakdown of what this means, click here