Tom Cable Comments on the McClain Pick

Raiders Head Coach Tom Cable speaks with the media about the team's first round pick, linebacker Rolando McClain.

Opening Statement

First thing I got to tell you, I'm geeked. That's the best word I can use. I know it sounds silly but it's just what I feel right now. This is obviously a long process that we go through, but this is a great piece to the Oakland Raiders' future.

I think getting Rolando in this organization does a lot of good for us. We've got to stop the run and defend the run better. I think we've added Kamerion Wimbley to that piece of the puzzle as well, and we can then work on the rest of the draft, maybe fixing some other real need issues, but to get a player of Rolando's caliber at the eighth pick, extremely, extremely excited, and just thrilled right now. Really, I'm buzzing. And the kid was great. He and I have already talked three times since we drafted him.

How easy was it to settle on Rolando McClain when you could've taken a tackle or a defensive tackle…

We coveted those four guys who went, you know McCoy, Suh, Williams, and Okung, and just really felt like there's a chance they'll go early. They did, they're all four really, really good players, and so, as I had mentioned to you in the pre draft media deal last week, we want to get the needs, the things that are most important. We couldn't get those guys that we really liked, they were taken, that's the way the draft goes. This became the next biggest need that was available to us.

On Rolando McClain being described as having the highest football IQ of anyone at the Combine

There's two qualities that jumped out to me about him is that every time when I investigated him and knew some people around him and all that, he really came back to us as a coach on the field. He was a guy that got everybody in watching film, got guys to go get a laptop and let the film people put some film on your laptop. Get you a DVD, slide it in, watch it, study. He's a guy that controlled the entire defense, made the call, adjusted, never came off the field. So I think all those reports were accurate. I was able to hear some of it first hand which was great. But we definitely, you know, you put a champion in the organization I think that's an important thing. On Kirk Morrison's status

Well, I think all it does is gives us depth now at linebacker. You know, we're putting this together to have that kind of depth, to have those quality players, and you know, we'll see what the next week or so brings us.

On the possibilities of a 3-4

There's some things I think will be new for us as a football team. But we're a 4-3 team in terms of our base structure. I think anybody that runs that fast can play middle linebacker in that defense. The thing that I'm geeked about, and when you guys get a chance to meet him for the first time, it's like you're looking at a small guard when he walks in the room. He is a giant.

Did the interview process help sell you?

Definitely. You know I was looking for the same things that I think we looked for last year, and that was character. And then guys who have had success and worked themselves into being the kind of player that they can be, and he's done all those kinds of things. And then I think with this guy, probably one of his real unique qualities is just the football IQ and his leadership. The ability to get others around him to come and enjoy studying the game like he did, and I think that's a real, real big time quality. How much does it help having played for a guy like Nick Saban in terms of transitioning into the NFL?

I think it's important. I think we're fortunate to get a guy to come out of Nick's system. Nick's had him for a couple years so he's had a chance to develop him, but also share the insights that go with going into the NFL and what's coming at you and how to handle, and I think that's really important.

Were there ever serious talks to the Steelers today about Ben Roethlisberger?

No, there's been no truth about it. And while I'm at it, however that Darren McFadden thing came up, that's ridiculous, people. Because there's no way. I don't know how it came out, I don't get it, I don't understand it, but there's no way Darren McFadden was ever going to be traded from this football team.

You talked last week about bringing guys with a winning pedigree, how important was that in choosing Rolando?

It's huge. Every time you chip away at the last seven years. In order to do it, when you knock some of that bologna away you got to add something good to it, and I think that's what we've been able to do. Certainly Rolando, one of the things he and I talked about was I asked him to be honorable. You come wear the Silver and Black, there's a reason and a purpose behind it. To come out here the right way. Don't let money and the other stuff go to your head. Just be who you are. Take it all in stride, but most importantly, honor the game and honor what's happened to you today, and I think he'll do that.

One player can't turn around a run defense, but how much impact can one player have in your system?

He can't do it by himself, but we can all get better, which you have to do in this game. It's just a good piece to help you improve that run defense.

What was his reaction when you talked to him?

You know, for about ten seconds I couldn't hear anything because the living room exploded in Decatur, Ga. where he's at. I was able to kind of see it on T.V. because they went to a satellite feed to his home and a lot of excitement and he's like, "Oh my God! I can't believe this!" And so it was a great deal.

On McClain's film

Guy made plays. He made plays against the run, he made plays against the pass. He could cover, which I think probably was the most surprising thing in that we play a lot of man coverage, and this guy could cover the tight end and defend him in one-on-one situations, as well intercept balls in space. But the thing that thrilled me most is that he's playing in arguably the best college football conference there is and he's able to go out there and direct it. They play some 3-4 as their base but they get into some 4-3 scheme in nickel, and he's on the field and he's bumping, and covering, running with backs, getting secondary people lined up and communicated, so I just think the more you watch this guy, it was pretty easy to feel as a football coach that man, he's really got his hand on this thing. And obviously you can't argue with the success they had as football team.

Did the first seven players go pretty much as you expect and did you get the guy you expected to get?

Exactly. I was sitting there hoping that one of those tackles would come to us, but they didn't. Those first seven went exactly the way I thought it would go, unless someone slipped or traded or did something that I'd hope for, and then it didn't. And then when it didn't, it was perfect. Number eight. Rolando McClain is going to be an Oakland Raider.

Safe to assume that you think this guy can hit the ground running as a starter?

I think so. I believe that's what we've done is added a guy who can walk in here next week, go to minicamp, and then break the huddle and let's go to work.

Are people just looking for the linemen and the linebackers?

First and foremost, it's been said a lot, it's a really strong draft on the line of scrimmage and so you're going to get quality players in round two and round three.

What kind of calls did you get and were you ever tempted to make a move there at eight?

We have. What's interesting, I think if you saw before us, Cleveland, it took them a while and the word was they were working on a deal. We were doing the same thing when our time came, and then when we looked at it, we said, "Wait a minute. This is how we thought it would go. This is the best player and it fits an important need on our team to help shore up our defense." And again, once those two tackles were gone, this was a no-brainer that we had to stay there and not move.

Are you confident that you'll be able to address the offensive tackle problems in the next couple days?

I think more importantly, offensive line issues, whether it's tackle or wherever, that's not the point right now. We just need to improve in that area.

What are your priorities from this point on?

I don't really want to go specific that way. I think I've pretty much told you. Address the line of scrimmage, we need another defensive back, we need to do some work in the backfield. That pretty much sums it up.

You talked about Rolando's speed. He's listed at mid 4.65. Do you guys have him at faster or are you talking about his speed in pads?

You're talking about a 260 plus pound guy that runs I think it was a 4.67. That's pretty good. Can you run that fast? No chance. I couldn't either though.

With so many of the recent drafts being about the skill positions, is that what brought about a return to the nuts and bolts, if you will, this year?

Last week, I talked about trying to be more specific to the biggest issues on this football team, need based, and so I think I'd keep that in mind. Not necessarily what's been going on the last few years. This team is at a point where if we can fix a couple of issues, we're that much better and that much closer.

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