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2010 NFL Draft: Al Davis Shocks the World with a Moment of Sanity

ALAMEDA, CA - SEPTEMBER 30:  Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis speaks during a press conference to announce the firing of head coach Lane Kiffin of the Oakland Raiders at thier training facility on Septemer 30, 2008 in Alameda, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst IJuly 5, 2016

In a moment that has not been seen in quite some time, Al Davis made a decision so shocking that ESPN panelists were dumbfounded.

They're not alone.  I to was dumbfounded.  But perhaps I'm just projecting.

That decision was to select LB Rolando McClain of the University of Alabama.  I did not expect that Mr. Davis would take interest in McClain, because the Raiders have historically taken only two linebackers in the first round.

Before then, the assumption had been that the Raiders would reach for a tackle graded as a second or third round pick, or officially end the JaMarcus Russell Experience by taking quarterback Jimmy Clausen.

Simultaneously, the same commentators would remark that the Raiders are in fact a good team on the rise in need of smart football players that can come in and contribute immediately.

In what can only be described as a humdinger, the Raiders went out and took one of the best football players available in the draft.  No one expected that from Al Davis.

Yes, Rolando McClain was one of the best football players available in the draft.  When was the last time that Al Davis did something in line with media suggestions?

As opposed to many of the other players available that are riddled with issues of experience or desire, McClain has plenty of experience and plenty of desire.

A great football player is not necessarily the most talented, but makes up for lack of talent with football smarts, toughness, and leadership.

Hailing from the Alabama Crimson Tide, McClain has great size for a middle linebacker and experience with a NFL style program under former Dolphins coach Nick Saban.  Moreover, McClain was the signal caller for a stout defense that helped lead the Crimson Title to victory in the BCS Title game.

The selection suggests that the Raiders could convert from the 4-3 base defense to the 3-4 base defense.

That could bode well for McClain, a player that could be for the Raiders what another inside linebacker from the SEC just across the Bay Bridge has been.  That player is, of course, Patrick Willis.

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