For years, the linebacker position was an abyss for the Las Vegas Raiders, a perpetual weakness for what seemed like an eternity. Was one player responsible for this?
With the eighth selection of the 2010 NFL Draft, the Raiders selected University of Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain. He was the last middle linebacker they took in the decade since. Raider Nation was excited as it seemed their team finally had chosen their defensive leader. Unfortunately, McClain’s lackadaisical attitude rubbed fans the wrong way as he didn’t really seem to care. This attitude is something that Raiders fans don’t forgive. Case in point, just look at Randy Moss.
Josh Schrock of NBC Sports recently looked at the players Raiders fans typically hate the most. Many were opposing players, however, McClain was a homegrown talent so to speak.
“While his [McClain] stats weren’t awful, the Alabama product had motivation issues that stopped him from growing into the type of player a top-10 pick is expected to be. Couple that with some legal troubles, and McClain is seen as one of the Raiders’ worst draft busts who sent them into a linebacker hell that they are just digging themselves out of.”
What Might’ve Been
It really was a shame McClain didn’t work out. Yet, the bewildering fact is his numbers were actually solid. In his three years with the Raiders, he totaled 288 solo tackles, six and a half sacks, and one forced fumble.
Looking back it’s plausible that McClain’s bust status prevented the team from selecting a linebacker in the first round again. Take the 2018 NFL Draft, the Raiders went with Kolton Miller, the offensive tackle from UCLA with the 15th pick. The team could’ve opted to take Tremaine Edmunds instead. The Pro Bowl middle linebacker might’ve had a huge impact on defense. For years, the Raiders refused to draft a middle linebacker high and opted to patch up the position via free agency instead. A decade later, thanks to general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden, the position finally has playmakers. Thanks a lot, Rolando.
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*Top Photo: Steve Mitchell/US PRESSWIRE