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Scouting Report: New LB McClain Plays With Power

Posted Jul 2, 2014


IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys just traded for former first-round pick Rolando McClain. Here’s a breakdown after watching some of his tape.

Rolando McClain – Linebacker – 6-3 – 250 – 4.68 – Alabama

Drafted by Oakland Raiders No. 8 overall in 2010 NFL Draft

Games Studied
: With Oakland in 2012 against Pittsburgh, @Denver, New Orleans

  • When they draw up how a linebacker is to look, Rolando McClain would be the model. Physically imposing with long arms and a thick upper and lower body. On tape, he plays with a ton of power and force. When he hits the ball carrier, they stop. Is a high tackler. Never observed him going low on an attempt to bring the ball carrier down. Wrap up and drive to ground. Can make the tackle in space, had several opportunities to do this and was successful all but once where he overran a play in the Saints game. Is a square-moving player along the line of scrimmage.
  • When he can extend his hands, he has the pop to shed the block and get to the ball. When he didn’t extend those hands and didn’t play his technique, then he was not going to be a factor in the play. His play improved in this area more as the season wore on. In the Steelers game, he tended to play lazy, then in the Saints game, he really turned it on. He played as if he was in better physical condition and his movement really improved.
  • For a player his size, he does not look quick, but there were some snaps in that Saints contest where he flowed to the ball nicely and with some quickness. I questioned his effort when he became tired. Were some drives in the Steelers and Broncos games where the Raiders were having a hard time getting off the field and he was no help. Can be very physical at the point of attack when the ball comes right at him whether it was the running back or the lead back. Is not afraid of that contact.
  • Surprising how we he covers for a player of his size. Would have to say that one of his better traits is his ability to understand where he needs to fit in his zone drops and get in position to handle those assignments. There were several snaps in the Steelers game where he had to carry the running back wide in the flat out of man coverage and he was able to put himself in good position to not allow the ball to be thrown in his direction. Was even asked to carry the tight end up the field and was not an issue. Did not look out of place at all in this regard.
  • Has no pass rush moves as a blitzer. It’s all about power and trying to run over the blocker. There were a couple of snaps where they tried to put him on the outside and rush but was nowhere near the quarterback or the ball. Would not call this one of his strong suits and if used in this role for the Cowboys, he is going to have to develop better technique to get those results.
  • Having an understanding of how these guys think in the front office, I promise they are looking at this deal with Rolando McClain as a low-risk, high-reward potential, which is far better than high risk and low reward. The big question will be if McClain is mentally right, because his tape shows that he has the physical tools with the low age to be a very big help. On a one year deal, it’s up to McClain to prove that he wants to play and get his career back on track. From my experiences in this league, these are the best case situations because if it doesn’t work out, you just move on. But if it does, you really have a chance to help your club.

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