Position: Middle Linebacker
Projected 40-Time: 4.65
Star Rating: Grade: 96
Draft Projection: 1st Round
Star rating is based on a prospects standing (as of March 5th) in the 2010 Scout.com Draft Rankings. A prospects grade is measured on the following scale:
85-100 = 1st - 2nd
_70-84 = 3rd - 4th
_55-69 = 5th - 6th
_40-54 = 7th Round - UDFA
Strengths: McClain is an instinctive defender who possesses a rare blend of size and speed and has the ability to take over a game. He’s a tall, rangy player who excels in many aspects of the linebacker position, and the scary notion is that he can get even better. He diagnoses the action extremely well, flows to the ball with ease using his lateral quickness and arrives on the scene with suddenness. He’s a thumper who plays downhill, but he also has the athleticism and reach to be effective in space. He takes good angles in pursuit, uses his size to his advantage to locate the ballcarrier and is able to shed blocks using his aggressiveness and strength. He has a great sense of timing on his blitzes and is able to blade through the line to make an impact in the backfield. He gets good depth on his drops, is aware of his surroundings and uses his long reach to defend passes. He’s a student of the game and plays with passion and toughness. He’s the ultimate gamer.
Weaknesses: He’s more quick than fast; straight-line speed is questionable. He has an inconsistent motor and doesn’t always play until the whistle. He has to improve his ball skills and develop into a much greater playmaking threat.Steuber Says: A three-year starter at Alabama, McClain emerged as the premier linebacker in the country in 2009 after he recorded 105 tackles, 14.5 for a loss, four sacks and two interceptions. At 6-foot-4, 256 pounds, McClain has the size/speed combination that scouts salivate over and the game that will ultimately make him an All-Pro. With that said, McClain should be a top 10 draft pick this April and could go as high as No. 5 to the Kansas City Chiefs. But that appears unlikely, as the Chiefs will probably address their need for a left tackle in the first round with the selection of Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung or Rutgers’ Anthony Davis. The Oakland Raiders could be an interesting fit for McClain, as owner Al Davis is enthralled with players who have the type of athleticism and size/speed numbers that McClain possesses. The Raiders also have a need for a linebacker, as Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard are restricted free agents. But just like the Chiefs, the Raiders need help on the offensive line and are rumored to be high on Rutgers’ Davis. Other possibilities for McClain include the Cleveland Browns at No. 7, the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 10 or 11 (depending on a coin-flip with Denver), the Miami Dolphins at No. 12, the San Francisco 49ers at No. 13 or the New York Giants at No. 15.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also now follow Chris Steuber on Twitter.