How the Raiders could capitalize on suspended Rolando McClain

11/30/12 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Blog Photo - How the Raiders could capitalize on suspended Rolando McClainIf the draft order were decided today, the Raiders would have the third overall pick. That position in the draft would most likely give them the opportunity to draft Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te'o. The Raiders should draft Te'o, and transition to a 3-4 base defense. Te'o is arguably the best overall player in the draft this year, and his close out speed and ability to defend the pass make up for a lot of McClain's inefficiencies. Te'o is no slouch against the run either - in fact, he's exceptional - so he and McClain could make it very difficult to run between the tackles against the Raiders.

If the Raiders do go this route, however, there's one more thing they'll need to address: a pass rushing presence. The Raiders have gotten an embarrassing lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season, and it's made their depleted secondary's inabilities even more evident. With absolutely no pass rush, it's nearly impossible for any defense to cover opposing receivers long enough to slow teams down through the air. The Raiders could pair Te'o and McClain in the middle, but they'd still be eaten up by opposing pass attacks without a pass rush threat.

The Raiders could attempt address this via the draft or free agency. The Raiders' pass rushing options in the third round of the draft (they don't have a second round pick) could include Chase Thomas from Stanford and Sean Porter from Texas A&M. Some of the big names scheduled for free agency are Sean Phillips, Cliff Avril, and Osi Umenyiora.

Rolando McClain is not Ray Lewis or Patrick Willis, and he probably never will be, but just because he hasn't completely lived up to the hype as the 8th overall pick does not mean there aren't plenty of positives to be happy with. Pair McClain in a 3-4 defense with a dynamic linebacker like Manti Te'o, and find an edge pass rusher to make things a little more difficult on opposing quarterbacks, and this could be a whole different defense next season.
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