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Tell me why Rolando McClain is special

I am not a scout and do not pretend to play one on the Internet. I'm not a personnel guy. I don't know squat about grading players or projecting players. My gig is to tell you what the scouts I speak with tell me.

But I know a good football player when I see one. And I know a great one when I see one.

I haven't watched Rolando McClain enough to give a fair judgment on whether he's good or great. But in watching the videos below I kept waiting for the monster raves about to show up. And I waited. And I waited.

And that guy never showed.

I expected Ray Lewis. I expected Mike Singletary.

I got Rolando McClain. Just Rolando McClain.

I saw a guy that made routine plays. I saw a guy that didn't seem faster or more explosive than everyone else on his defense. I saw a guy that tackled high. I saw a guy that usually took the right path to the ball carrier, but not always. I saw a lot of tackles in which he cleaned up, rather than was the first guy on the scene. I saw a good, not great, blitzer.

I was impressed by McClain's ability in pass coverage. That stood out for me.

But dominant as a run-stopper? A man to be game-planned for? A game-changer?

I failed to see that.

What am I not seeing? What am I missing here?

All the draft pundits claim McClain is special, that he's the second coming of Dick Butkus. Well, McClain won the Dick Butkus Award last year, but I failed to see him as Dick Butkus.

I saw a player that played well on an outstanding defense. I saw a guy that obviously understood his assignments and carried them out. But this guy isn't even Patrick Willis, in my humble opinion.

So watch the videos and you tell me. What am I missing?

I'm two people from the magic 3k on twitter. Get me there and I'll stop whining about it already. 


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Fellow teammate, and highly regarded draft prospect Javier Arenas said, "You black out for a second and try to figure out what truck hit you. You see him walking away. OK, it's him."

Perhaps the most remarkable and eventually endearing to a happy NFL defensive coordinator isn’t his imposing size or explosiveness. Instead, it may be his mental grasp of the game such as quickly understanding new schemes.

It's WAY to earlier to make comparisons....but who was perhaps the best ILB in Dolphins history...a bit undersized...but was repeatedly praised by peers and coaches as perhaps the smartest ILB to play the game....I'll give you a clue, he's trying to resign with Miami for 1 whole day so he can retire as a Phin. McClain may not be a Zach Thomas or Ray Lewis, but he's generally rated around the #6 best draft prospect, is extremely smart, and always on the ball. Instinct and intellect can't be taught. He has sound fundamentals and coaching can improve his technique and turn him into ZT or Lewis or... you get the point. He has the size, speed, instinct to get the job done and move to the next level.

Armando I'm with you. that why I believe the Dolphins should go get Dansby via free agency and draft Sergio Kindle from the University of Texas. Watch the video of Sergio and tell me that this guy doesn't have greatness written all over him. His motor never stops.


Exactly what I thought after watching McClain recently, Mando. Looked a tad overrated to me. Really struggles when he is blocked and doesn't tackle very well in open space. Gets run over a bit one-on-one, conceding a lot of yards after contact. He'd still be a good addition to the Phins D, but is a reach at 12. I thought the same of Kindle by the way, not the pass rushing beast some have said he is. Looking forward to watching some tape on Graham, let's see if he's as good as Mando says!


His tackles went up every year, from 74, to 91, to 105. Solo tackles went up from 36, to 45 to 53. What does that tell you? He's still learning.

Playmaking? Sacks went up from 1, to 3, to 4 each season as well. Interceptions? 1 to 2 a season.

He's 6'4" 256 lbs that runs a 4.6, can cover in space against the pass (no TE's overtaking him) as well.

Did I mention he is an honor roll student?

Alabama coaches give him high praise for his work ethic...none of those lingering questions if he's a slacker, overweight, doesn't give 100% etc.

And from....


"Some consider him the next Brian Urlacher, at least when Urlacher was healthy."

Most impressively, McClain is smart. As a sophomore, McClain became the leader of the vaunted Alabama defense. He's like another coach on the field, barking order at his teammates making sure they're in the proper position.

"He lines up the guys next to him," LSU coach Les Miles told reporters this week. "He understands backfield sets and what to expect. You can tell he's a very bright player. (He) understand the intricacies of the game."


"He was a three-year starter and has been calling the defensive signals since he was a freshman."

"Alabama coach Nick Saban has called the All-American one of the smartest players he's ever coached."

I'm just curious....why don't you take the time to actually compile a full list and breakout from different scouts, see what they have to say, formulate an opinion of your own based on their reviews, and actually try to understand why he is rated so high, rather then watch 5 minutes of high-lights and then ask your readers to provide you the information that you should have already researched....

....and do so for the top picks you suspect the Dolphins will target in the first and second rounds. I've seen better writeups at a ton of places.

How about looking at http://www.nfldraftdog.com/nfl-team-columns/miami-dolphins.html and seeing what FA's are out there...and who we could sign if we let Akin or someone go, where that $ could be reallocated to (i.e. Dansby) and then how that would affect our draft, if at all..? Give us some actual knowledge and opinions based on cultivated research.

Based on the video you present (I have not seen anything other than this), I agree. What is so special about this guy? Generally, he goes where the play is, but I see a lack of commitment. He doesn't finish like I thought he would based on what I have read.

There are tons of smart guys in college. The dolphins should pick Brandon Grahm, as long as his combine times are what he said they will be. We got beat up and down the field last year from every TE in the game. We need an Eric Berry, or Witherspoon to cover the TE. I don't think it makes a difference if we get an outside LB or inside LB with speed. The phins scouts will do their due dilligence. If we get a few more pass rushers, hopefully these QBs won't have the time to see the TEs running free on our defense. It really scares me we haven't cut Gabril Wilson yet. Unless he is bound for full time special teams duty, it is really mystifying why we would keep him around, unless he is on the trading block.

I'm glad a lot of the well known draft guru's have McClain going to Miami. That means it won't happen. I believe it will be an outside LB with great pass rushing ability. Witherspoon might be that guy or Mandos new adopted son. I just hope a player is there that makes a team that picks after Miami salivate & want to trade up.

I am on same boat. I don't see special. He does tackle high and he isn't that fast. Only thing i do see is he has a nfl size body imo readdy to play right away. whether or not he'll be immediate upgrade is not certain.

Also Eric Berry can't touch Ed Reed's shoe. That is the biggest bust since Jason Allen. what has Tennessee done since Peyton Manning... Hell i even live in Memphis now. Tenn is joke the NT is only worth pick but he is still a gamble

Your same arguments could be made for your boy Brandon Graham. He lights up the Senior Bowl and you want him at 12?

"Alabama coach Nick Saban has called the All-American one of the smartest players he's ever coached."

...and we all know how truthful Nick is

you're not a scout Mando, and for research you use YouTube...

3k = $$$ Bonus

If there isn't a #12 worthy need pick at 12 then I say we should trade down for extra picks. We may still be able to get the guy we need a little further down plus the extra pick.

I say dump Akin, put the $ towards Dansby, and go after an OLB (Weatherspoon, ) or DE/OLB tweener(Derek Morgan / Pierre-Paul) that can take Porter's or JT's spot. Get younger and improve our LB core as a whole...

THANK YOU ARMANDO!!!! I have been saying this about McClain for weeks. People like him just because he is a Linebacker on the best team in the country.

trade down for extra picks! mclains not worth a #12.

i say we get c.j. spiller the kid is a beast. As much as the d needs help with a big play threat like c.j. spiller on this team it would open up our wideouts to make plays. 2ND round and beyond we can go d but i say pick the best player at 12 screw the need we need talent on this team

I too thought he looked average; especially when recalling that he had T. Cody occupying blockers and freeing him up!

I say pick up Dansby, Rolle and Banta- Cain. Draft Dez Bryant first and "Two Play Cody" in the second and watch how good Dansby looks then!.

.... Oh, and did I mention Run DMC (Dexter Mcclusky (sp) of Ole Miss) in the third?

Armando, I spent about 2 solid weeks watching every video possible, reading every article possible, if there's a quote about McClain out there, I've probably read it. And looking at all the ILBs in the NFL, I see Karlos Dansby. Though McClain is more intelligent, football wise, and has played in a pro style 3-4 defense. Dansby was the 33rd pick. Very interesting. I will tell you this, the guy is an upgrade over what KC, CLE, BUF, DEN, and us have at ILB currently. So the ultimate indictment of him would be him still being on the board at 13. I personally think the guy is smart, fast, and physical, and those guys usually succeed, and have long, productive careers.

Armando, Read ESPN's Joyner's Draft Lab on McLain. It will cool you even further on him.

an unconfirmed source of mine has the dolphins trading out of the 12th with the chargers so they can get cj spiller. we would get the chargers first round pick this year and second rounder. thoughts????

Well he didn't get fooled on that QB sneak which Miami's current ILB's always do.


come on! it's college ball, these guys are still learning. I think he should stay for his Sr year, but his stock is high. I've been a Bama fan since I was 12 (sorry, all u Nicknator haters, I've been a Fins fan since I was 7) and this guy is the real deal.

definitely needs to improve on open-field tackling, but moves to the ball well and can flat out cover TEs and RBs out of the backfield. he's smart and that's what we need at LB (not some trash-talking, peezy j, whatever the fock you smokin crack addict we have now)

also, anyone remember DeMeco Ryans??!?!? oh yeah, he's from Bama and has been a force for the Texans for the last 3 yrs. and don't forget, he was making all kind of plays against the Phins last December.

we pass on him, and we're gonna look like fools for doing so.

highlights found here:

By all accounts, this is a very strong draft for defense. Given all of the needs that Miami has, I would expect them to try like heck to trade down from no. 12 to try to pick up an additional first rounder or a second rounder, so they end up with three picks in the first two rounds. They sign Rolle and Dansby and then have the luxury of being able to use those picks on the best player available between NT, OLB, WR, ILB, TE, with the other needs being picked in the following rounds.

Do not get Rolando McClain if you can get Dansby. We need a proven player. McClain looks solid but his NFL future is uncertain. If we cannot get Dansby then we need to draft, sign, or trade for a monster OLB.

We need to be really careful with our draft picks. Experts say this will be the best draft class in the past few years and for years to come because of upcoming rookie contract policies.

anyone else out there like CJ Spiller at #12?

Best talent at that pick in my opinion - he is a game breaker. I don't like McLain with this pick either. This has to be a "can't miss" pick and Spiller is as close as you will get to it.

Like I have been saying for the past 10 blog posts:

Vote NO for Mclain, just like America Did

I am hoping this catches on

@ Caribou

You think we should a 12th pick in the draft for a guy that needs "improvement" in open field tackling?

We have already tackling projects: See Gebril , Sean Smith


its probably time to get the fins a playmaker; dez bryant or spiller. if not we can trade down for more draft picks. we just cant waste them like last draft! we got alotta holes to fill!

Players who will not be wearing a Dolphins uniform...1. Dez Bryant 2. CJ Spiller 3. Brandon Marshall 4. Karlos Dansby

brandon graham please


He's a better tackler than what we got now! What do you see now on the Phins?

Armando says McLain's no Patrick Willis, but where was the Phins' brass when Willis was available in 2007??? oh that's right, taking All In The Ginn Family!

I watch SEC football and I saw Willis several times that year and he was all over the field, similar to McLain, though Willis was of a ILB and I believe McLain is more of OLB.

This is what happens when you use the strategy of "Draft for need"! We should be drafting for best available player.

When you draft for need; you get hung up on one particular player and lose focus on all players and most times you don't get what you hoped for.

He's great! He sucks! He's great! He sucks!

All I know is none of us would make a halfway decent NFL GM. Let the Trifeca pick who they pick. That is what they get paid to do.

Armando speaks and the sheep start to gather

someone drank their haterade this morning?? if you look at the previous last six to seven blogs

we talked about this already

theres probably over 100 or more post with us explaining why, posting links to videos & some people even wrote out some statistical essays lol

ever since we got on this brandon graham trip i think your being a little biased

your calling it how you see it and vice versa

i mean i appreciate and respect your opinion but c'mon meng hes a top prospect for a reason

You're welcome for the videos.

Agree with Matt D. The sleeper pick for us is CJ Spiller. Look at the ranking of defenses in the super bowl. Greg Williams did great work with little defensive talent. One could argue that the Dolphins personnel right now is better on Defense or at least equivilent to the Saints. What we lack is offensive explosivness, something they have. Spiller can score every time he has the football. As far as McClain goes, hes very comparable to the Jets ILB David Harris who was a 2nd rounder. Harris didn't do anything flashy in college. Grinder type just like McClain but he developed over a couple of seasons. I think McClain will also. But Defenses dont score points. I say we take a chance on Marshall and draft CJ. We can use 2nd and 3rd round on defense and shore up with 2nd tier FA guys as well. Those 2 guys would add 10-12 points a game and that would be enough along with our new attacking style D to win 3-4 more games next year.

This is the post I put up last week. Where is NJ and Bobby at?

James, i don't know if the ultimate assessment of Mclain you brought here is accurate, but, i like your reasoning about what we could be getting from this space vs. what we got/get. of course, all this author and his bosses really want is people like us posting for whatever reason.
what i find interesting about the draft process is how commentatry from the fans and media consistently obscure how subjective drafting and couting is...everyone claims to understand it, but, so few apply that understanding. the clips don't tell some of you what you want to see from mclain.
so what.
history tells us these things usually don't. it does suggest to us he has a chance to be a good player for a while ray lewis went near the END of the 1st round. zack thomas was a 5th rounf pick?
how many geniuses here were looking at ray lewis or zach thomas or jason taylor for that matter in college and thinking miami should take them with their 1st pick, wherever it was - let alone think you were looking at hall of fame players?? hell, the pro scouts didn't know it. RAY LEWIS didn't look like ray lewis in college. the great ones can come from anywhere..how often do they "look" like hall of famers in their college tape?

Mondo, I agree with your take on McClain I was expecting a playmaker and more dominating type of player. That's why I think we need to go CJ Spiller with this pick. Ricky is 32, Ronnie is often injured and Spiller can provide the jolt of excitement and play makability the offense needs. He will immdiately make our offense better and give us a threat from the backfield, lined up as a receiver and returning kicks....would love to know what the scouts have told you about Spiller and your thoughts

Armando, you think you are slick... Watch, this week after the combine it is going to start coming out how average this guy is... Juniors are last to be evaluated and I don't think there have been much evaluating of this guy's film... It's like, everyone is saying he is great and no one wants to be the one to say, he's not that great... These guys have been on here for the last month talking about how great McClain is... And from the very beginning, I said what is so great? The first thing they say... His leadership... You can't drag him off the practice field... Yeah cause he needs the practice.

I am also not impressed with McClain and would not believe anything that Satan says about him.

I think the Phins should trade Ginn, Crowder, and Brown for two second round picks and a third round pick. Yes, I said Ronnie Brown. I think he is over-rated -- especially because he is so injury prone -- we all know that Crowder is in that same camp.

Then, I am in the camp of taking CJ Spiller with the 12th pick. He is a beast and not injury prone. With three second round picks (2 from the above trades), fill the musts at ILB, OLB, and NT -- I think Graham or Witherspoon or Kindle will likely be there. Use a third round pick to fill the receiver needs or maybe Dexter McCluster is there for a combo RB/Returner.

Personally I think Brandon Spikes is the better prospect and can be had later in the 1st or early 2nd round.

Why the Fins will draft a ILB in with the 1st pick ? It's not our #1 need. What'a about Sergio Kimble ?

Armando, you know what I see on these videos, a guy that has had 270 tackles in 3 years..I see a guy that isn't fooled and running the wrong way, always moving towards the ball, I see a guy whose not afraid to get physical and fighting through blocks, I see. 6:4 265 pound guy 20-30 yards downfield breaking up pass plays...I see the Number one rated Linebacker in this draft, I see what most of America sees, according to an ESPN poll this morning McClain as one of the top 5 players coming out...I see Rolando McClain in a Dolphins uniform and lastly I see a good sportswriter trying to keep up a controvery on his blog that has been talked about for close to three weeks...let's stop beating a dead horse because on April 22nd this will be settled by people much more knowledgeable then you and me

Gene is a very smart football fan

Yes it is obvious Armando created this article to prolong the argument that has been going on here for the last couple weeks, but I'm over it... I'm not playing

I like Spikes and Graham better!

Brandon Spikes has cement feet and legs of molasses

you can add elvis dumervil to the list of free agents that want to come to miami, he credits mike nolan for his recent success in moving him to OLB. He also said he would like to follow him home to Miami. Mclain is a solid player too i agree with james.

Mmm... not what we need. His strengths just don't seem to be in-tune with the aggressive blitzing scheme Mike Nolan will put in place. He seems to rely too much on his pre-snap reads & lacks the requisite football instincts to react to plays. Nolan will likely require a smart leader on the back end which I think Bell will be satisfactory for. As for his front 7 he needs dogs, who'll just swarm to the ball. Too many plays where he seemed to stop his pursuit of the qb or gets misdirected by a runner's shiftiness & stops. Seems like he's more of a tactician than an aggressor. I guess that's what i'm saying in a nutshell & i just don't think that's a Nolan kind of guy.

And one of the biggest questions on him is if he is a three down player. There are those out there who say he'll have to come out in passing situations, that he's really just a run defender. That's not good enough for the #12 pick if it's true.

Parcells loves to get RBs in late rounds....he sure isn't going to take a 195 lb RB with the 12th pick, lol. He got rid of Booker, who was rated the #1 prospect coming out of high school (ahead of R. Bush) and who declined to go to USC as he wanted to get out of FL, so went to FSU where he was underused. It wasn't until he was put in the game, that us fans started to have hope for our offense. But when the trifecta came in...they let him go.

Spiller with the 12th pick with Ronnie/Ricky/Cobbs/Hilliard on the roster? Not a chance, even if they do trade Ronnie...still not a chance, lol. They'll do a 3 back rotation instead and draft a RB in rounds 5-7 to develop.

Drafting an ILB or OLB at #12 isn't trying to fit a "need" into a spot someone isn't worthy. There are several ILBs / OLBs that could go in the 10 - 15 range. Trying to make a need fit a spot is drafting someone 1 to 3 rounds higher then they rate. When ILBs / OLBs have a consensus that they are top 1st round, mid first round, late 1st round drafting them within that round isn't a stretch or pushing one's luck.

Remember, like "love57" said....very few come out of college looking like Hall of Famers. Brees? Brady? Zach Thomas? JT? Lewis? Merrimam? The list of 1st round busts and 4th to 7th round and undrafted glory goes on and on.

...so project all you want... Take into account as much as you can, but everything is rolling a dice, from performance, to injuries etc. For the personnel dept. that actually make a living doing nothing but scouting and understanding intricacies of body movements, angles, etc. 95% of us never notice....trying to find the perfect pick is hard enough...

G-d help us all when Rob in OC wakes up this morning...

Mark, who says?? Name names please...I want to know what idiot says McClain will have to come out when one of his greatest strengths is dropping back in pass coverage..

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