If the Chiefs are prepared to make a linebacker the No. 5 choice in the draft, it seems Rolando McClain should be their man. The Alabama defensive star won the 2009 Jack Lambert Award and Butkus Award, both given to the nation's top linebacker annually. The awards came on the heels of a season where, under Coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide 'backer led the defense on the nation's top team, had 101 tackles including 12.5 for a loss. He also forced one fumble, picked off two passes and added four sacks.
In his press conference at the 2010 Scouting Combine, he noted how much more comfortable he is playing middle linebacker, saying that he can play outside if need be, but he's played middle linebacker his entire collegiate career. It's in this position, he can allow his on-field leadership to truly take hold -- something he desires to also take on at the next level.
"A lot of teams want a mike linebacker to be the leader of the defense. It's something I'm used to. I've always been a leader. I had to lead seniors as a freshman at Alabama. I just do what it takes to win. A lot of guys saw the way I work and admired me, so they listened."
In terms of what scouts and coaches are telling him they appreciate about his play, he says, "Everybody likes my play. They like my smarts. Everyone says the same thing." And apparently, playing for Nick Saban doesn't hurt anything either. "He coached in the NFL. He knows what it takes to play in the NFL. His 3-4 is so complicated. He's one of the best defensive minds ever."
For those questioning whether or not he could handle the 3-4 defense at the pro level, it's actually the place he's most comfortable. "I played a 4-3 in high school and 3-4 under Coach Saban. I'm a lot better in the 3-4, but Saban's defense is known for being good. But yes, I was better in the 3-4 defense."