Raider Nation has a new Secretary of Defense. He is Butkus Award winning middle linebacker Rolando McClain.
The Raiders are coming off of a year where the defense ranked 29th against the run. The new Secretary Of Defense was appointed to fix that problem in Raider Nation.
Does Raider Nation really have their man?
That is the million dollar question.
Raider Nation has their man if he is physical, smart, and instinctive. Speed helps but he must have the aforementioned traits along with the ability to shed blocks.
Is he physical?
Former Alabama teammates speak loud and clear about McClain's physicality. Cornerback Javier Arenas said this about what it was like to be hit by McClain.
"You black out for a second and try to figure out what truck hit you. You see him walking away. Ok, it's him."
And that's when he's helping you make a tackle!
McClain also sheds blocks well. He uses his physicality to do so. Here is what former teammate and fullback Preston Dial had to say about his practice battles with him.
"Not only are his legs real strong but he's so physical with his hands shedding blocks. He never stays blocked. He's so violent that when he meets you in the hole, all you can hope for is a stalemate."
Dial also said of McClain, "Instead of the running back picking his hole, Ro makes the decision for the running back which way he is going to go."
That's a teammate talking! What happens in a game situation against a man he doesn't know or hates?
This is college we're talking about. But the men among boys in college usually succeed in the NFL. Bill Parcells once said, "If they don't bite when there puppies, they usually never will."
Do you wanna know about his instincts and smarts?
Alabama Defenive Coordinator Kevin Steele said, "He's got an ablity to analitically process information and and react to it faster than anyone I've ever been around.
Steele also said, "I've never coached but two like that. One of them was Sam Mills, who played 12 years in the NFL and was All-Pro several times. And Rolando."
Alabama Head Coach Lou Saban also had raving reviews of McClain's collegiate years.
He said, "Some guys understand their position. But I would venture to guess that Ro knows what every player is supposed to do on every play on defense."
Collegiate middle linebackers never get the responsiblity of calling defensive audibles. McClain got that responsibility. Need I say more about his smarts and insticts?
At 6'4, 258 pouds, McClain ran a 4.6 40 yard dash. That ranks him pretty high for his position so he obviously passed the Al Davis test.
What McClain did following the draft showed that he is worthy of being Raider Nation's Secretary Of Defense.
He didn't have a huge party. He didn't go and buy himself a mink coat.
He called and asked for a playbook!
Does that not show that he is a worker that wants to be everything that the Raiders need him to be?
The only factor beyond the player himself is what he has around him. McClain has been appointed secretary of a defense that has already been built around him.
With the good secondary already behind him, his defensive line looks like murderer's row. Second round pick and defensive end Lamarr Houston is now in Raider Nation.
John "Smack Me Up" Henderson was also added to keep blockers off of McClain. Let's not forget that Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour are still in Raider Nation.
McClain will also have ample talent to his left and right at linebacker. To one side will be Kamerion Wimlbey, who is a first round pick himself.
After a stellar rookie season, he found out what it's like to be the only good defensive player on your team. Offensive coordinators plan for and around you.
On the other side will be up and coming star Trevor Scott. Scott is a third year linebacker/defensive end that has 12 sacks to show for only six starts in two years in Raider Nation. He tied for the team lead in that category in both of his two seasons.
Surrounding the rookie with talent like that will give McClain a chance to show the NFL what he is all about. His aforementioned qualities tell me that McClain is the "Truth."
Defensive rookie of the year is not out of reach.
Neither is the playoffs.
The defense's ranking is sure to go up!