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McClain Has 4-3 Roots

Rolando McClain is, as we all know, the top middle linebacker in this year’s draft class. And, as you all know, he is my target for the Giants to pick at 15. The only problem is that McClain played in a 3-4 defense at Alabama. And the biggest question has been: Can he make the switch?

I detailed why he can here. But, there are some out there who think McClain is best suited for a 34 front.

Tom Rock of Newsday had a great article today. He talked to McClain’s high school coach. McClain was a 4-3 middle linebacker in college. Here is what his high school coach, Jere Adcrock, had to say:

“I really don’t think it’s going to be a problem for him in either direction.

Adcrock went on to say that McClain went sideline to side routinely. I think the main thing to take away is that if McClain could successfully transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4, he can transition back.

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7 Responses to “McClain Has 4-3 Roots”

  1. Dan says:

    Oh good we’re saved.

    It’s pretty clear he doesn’t have sideline to sideline speed at the nfl level- his change of direction just isn’t elite. Luckily a lot of other things in his game are, so he’ll be at least solid.

    His style and body type lend themselves perfectly to the 34 scheme, so if we were a 34 team, I’d be saying trade up to get him,
    whatever you gotta do.

    Gotta say it though, saying he played a 43 in high school doesn’t relate much to today. No one (intelligent) has any doubt he could understand and pick up a 43 scheme, but whether he can be a standout without the agility guys like Beason and Ryans have. Anyway, high school level 43s play like 44 or 52s with under and over schemes, very rarely 7 men in the box.

  2. Dan says:

    And just to be clear, I really hope he falls to us, especially if that’s who Reese and the gang are targeting. I doubt it with all the 34 teams ahead, but we’ll see.
    I just think it makes scheming a lot harder when your Mike can’t cover a guy like Westbrook or Bush out of the backfield, having to cover that up puts guys out of position, makes you more predictable. If you have 2 backers on the field who can cover.. that’s a dangerous versatile defense. It really is a pass-first league now. Sadly haha

  3. Jeremy Fuchs says:

    You make a good point, Dan. If I remember correctly, I think my high school employed a 4-7 formation. I can’t be sure though (I was on the hockey team.) But, I do think there is something to take out of this: He’s made the transition before. He was recruited as a 43 linebacker. He started as a freshman. I don’t see why he won’t be successful going back to a 43 front.

    Can he be a standout with a lack of elite athleticism? I don’t know. I think that because he’s so good in other areas, it won’t matter. Besides, now that we have an elite safety group (Yeah, I said elite), covering a guy like Bush will be okay. Just put a safety in the box, and you’ll be fine. I think McClain is going to be a star, and be one of the better Mike Backers in the league. He’s so smart, and such a hard worker, that that alone will make him successful. I do worry that a team like Denver will take him. It’s very possible

    • andrew says:

      here’s my thing about MLB — you don’t have to be lightning quick to make plays. People always highlight the lack of speed for Antonio Pierce, but there’s something to be said for reading the play and just breaking it up with power and agility:

      McClain has that — he can break it up in the middle, he can make tackles. I love his highlight reel, he looks like Pierce jr.

    • Dan says:

      you’re both absolutely right, great athleticism isn’t a necessity in a MLB, but it’s more important than in a 34 ILB because it’s a completely different position.
      I think Mr. Fuchs is correct in saying McClain is awesome in other areas. My main (only) concern with him is he doesn’t look good in coverage. He doesn’t move his hips well, he doesn’t change direction fluidly.
      I think he would be a standout run stopper as a 43 Mike. I don’t think he’d be ideal in the passing game- he was never once asked to drop and cover the 15 yard deep hole in Saben’s 34, but as a 43 Mike he would have to do that on nearly every Cover 2 play we ran, which I think will be somewhat often.
      Mr Fuchs as far as your elite comment- hell yeah we got good safeties haha. But dropping one into the box… yeah of course, but you can also do that to cover a TE or a slot lined up close. You can’t do em all at the same time though, and you don’t want to have to play one high a lot. My main argument here is against being predictable. You can make moves to cover up a weakness in coverage, but they cost you somewhere else and make you easier to figure out for opposing QB’s. Gonna get a lot of short passing, that’s the NFL right now you know?

  4. Jeremy says:

    McClain reminds me of Ray Lewis.

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