6’4, 258 pounds | Middle linebacker | Alabama
Coverage: Better in zone coverage than man where he can use his athleticism to break on the ball. Uses his plus football intelligence to know opponent’s passing plays and gets good breaks on routes. Hands are nothing special.
Instincts: Recognition skills are at an elite level. Is never out of place, which makes his burst and athleticism seem even more impressive. Doesn’t get fooled by play-action and quickly recognizes blocking schemes.
Pass Rush: A strong pass rusher who is infrequently required to blitz. Shows a good rip move. Closes really fast when he gets an open lane.
Pursuit: He’s always going hard and fast toward the ball. He takes correct angles to the ball carrier and infrequently gets caught up on blocks. Reportedly has run the 40-yard dash in 4.59 and 4.63 seconds.
Quickness: Has a great first step off the snap that amplifies his ball recognition skills. Uses his quickness to slip blocks to avoid the arms of his opponents.
Run defense: McClain is perhaps the premier run-stopping linebacker in the draft. He’s strong and rangy. Playing on the inside, McClain doesn’t wait for the ball carrier to come at him, he attacks.
Size: Possesses perfect size for the position. Is strong throughout his frame and reportedly has only 9 percent body fat. While
Strength: Has a powerful frame and impressive functional playing strength. Needs to become a little more technically sound shedding blocks. Will get upright too much and allow blockers into his legs.
Tackling: A picture-perfect tackler. Wraps up when he reaches the ball carrier. Doesn’t need a lot of help tackling. Doesn’t tackle high. McClain can really big hits on players, jarring the ball loose.
Versatility: McClain is not just a run-defending middle linebacker. When he’s asked to get after the quarterback, he has the moves to get through inside and close. McClain has also shown he can drop back into coverage and cover tight ends in space.
Final word: McClain is the most sure-thing as a middle linebacker prospect in the draft since Patrick Willis. He’s a prototypical combination of size, athleticism and intelligence.
If McClain somehow turns out to be a bust, it will be a shock.