Defensive Tackle, South Florida
Drafted: Third round, No. 65 overall, 2011 NFL Draft by Carolina
Games Studied: 2013 Seattle, San Francisco, New England and Denver
McClain lined up as a nose tackle in the Texans’ 3-4 defensive scheme last season, but I think he is a much better fit to play as a one-technique in a 4-3. He played some defensive end in the 49ers game as a reduced end, which allowed him to line up as a three-technique.
The first thing you notice about the player is his ability to sit down at the point of attack. He’s a hard guy to move, knows how to fire his hands inside and control the blocker -- really quick hands. This guy plays with some lower body power, as well.
He’s able to control the down blocks from the guard, or deal with the center one-on-one. I like how he is able to fire those hands, then you see him quickly look for the ball carrier -- active. Another thing is that he’s always working to get to the ball. He will play down the line and outside the tackle box. For the limited amount of snaps he got, it was rare that you saw him on the ground or stuck on a block. He makes a big effort and hustle plays.
McClain gets away with playing upright at times because of his leverage and upper body strength, but there are also snaps where you see his pad level down and he’s dealing with the blockers. I really like the way he sees the play develop and gets over to the ball.
Against the Broncos, he was able to run down a middle screen because he read the play. The only game where he played a little late off the ball was against the Patriots, and they were able to get on him. He plays with balance to handle the low block. I could see his work as a pass rusher in the Broncos game when Houston defensive coordinator Wade Phillips played his nickel package the majority of the game. He’s quick off the ball to rush and when he becomes engaged, will use a spin move to try and free himself as he is going up the field.
He showed some athletic ability coming around the edge on the twist stunt -- didn’t have a sack against Peyton Manning but did pressure him into throwing the ball away. If you look at his career, McClain has been with two teams that play outstanding defense in Houston and New England, so that tells me that at some point, coaches liked what they saw in his potential value.