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Rolando McClain (Alabama)
Height: 6-4 Weight: 256
40 Time: 4.68
There's something to say about being one of the biggest linebackers available and having the fastest 40 time for any backer over 240 pounds. That scary combination of size and speed is what makes the Alabama native so attractive to scouts.
Aside from his physical tangibles, McClain was an honor student at Alabama and acted as the leader in the locker room and on the field for the defense. His contributions garnered him a Butkus award and his team a national championship. He ended his '09 campaign with 105 tackles, four sacks, a forced fumble, and two interceptions.
What makes the former Alabaman defender truly special is his dedication to the game of football and the study of it. It shows at the line; his reaction skills are elite at the very least. He has a nose for screens and used Saban's aggressive 3-4 defensive strategy to flank his nose tackle and snuff the inside run.
Although a blitzer at heart, McClain has excellent lateral speed and can recover from overpursuing at an odd angle. Some say his aggression at the line will translate to bad cover skills in the NFL, but with some of the faster feet in his class, good coaching at the next level should take care of that.
Against the run, there is very little McClain can do wrong. He has the size to bull rush the line and bust through ill-timed tackles. His long arms are perfect for stacking interior blocks and throwing them aside to block the running lane. Again, though, there is some concern that his dependence upon Terrence Cody in stopping the run will be exposed at the next level.
In pass coverage, McClain plays the role of the semi-athletic linebacker, a large physical specimen that can keep up with marginally quick receivers but looks stiff in quick changes of direction. His speed on the field is often boosted by its general down-hill motion and the instincts that serve as the catalyst for his quick, accelerated motions.
His hands are decent (five interceptions in his career) and his zone coverage skills aren't shabby, either. He has great recognition skills and closes in on the ball quickly. In open space, he acts as a safety, allowing no one to escape his tackle.
Aside from his size and tenacity, McClain's tackling ability stands alone in his class. He has a prototypical hit-lift-drive technique that works well with his large frame. He has worked hard to improve his wrap-up ability, as well.
Going into April, McClain will be one of the most-discussed prospects on the market, mostly for his size and his dedication to improving his game. He is a film room junkie with a humble attitude, a combination that the NFL needs more of.
Look for a team like Miami to use the twelfth pick in the draft to grab McClain. With the possibility of losing Jason Ferguson and Jason Taylor on their mind, it's more than possible the Dolphins will see McClain as their next Patrick Willis, a leader that can learn from veterans Joey Porter and Akin Ayodele.
Linebacker isn't a priority for Miami, but McClain will certainly legitimize their defense and create an easier time of it for Chad Henne and the offense in 2010.
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