Can easily be sealed from the football and isn't real rangy when asked to make plays away from his frame. Struggles to consistently break down and tackle even in a phone booth, as he has a tendency to run himself right past the football, lacking ideal instincts inside.
Displays some natural quickness and coordination as a pass rusher, but his ability to be sudden and shed blocks is again limited by his high pad level. Struggles to use his hands at this stage and lacks a real understanding of how to disengage and keep himself clean.
But is the kind of athlete that can side step/spin himself free away from blocks when given an opportunity in space. More of a finesse guy who can rely on his quickness and footwork only in order to be effective.
Impression: Possesses an average-sized frame and some decent athleticism, but his inability to use his hands and play with leverage really hurts his chances of making an NFL roster."
Pursuit: Effort is something that McClain possesses as his motor is non stop. You will often find him 10 yards down the field in pursuit of the ball carrier. McClain works tirelessly to disengage himself from the offensive linemen. He boasts good lateral quickness that allows him to get into position to make a play on outside runs. While he doesn't have the quickness to catch a back from behind that doesn't stop him from trying. His overall effort often results in him reaching his target.
Quickness: McClain has good awareness and snap recognition. His possesses a quick first step that allows him to beat the blocker off the ball and to a spot. When McClain identifies the ball carrier he has the ability to quickly close and make a play.
Run defend: As a run defender, McClain relies on his quickness to make a play. He struggles at the point of attack due to poor balance. He ended plays on the ground way to often and that is a result of not keeping his feet underneath him. To properly play the run you need to be able to work through contact towards the football. McClain struggled to disengage from the blockers which limited his ability to properly play the run.
Strength: McClain showed good initial burst and pop off the line of scrimmage. He delivered a strong initial blow to the offensive line which allows him to slip and penetrate the pocket. The biggest concern I have is his ability to anchor after contact and hold at the point of attack. The offensive line was able to push him back and on the ground on more than a handful of plays.
Tackling: In the games that I viewed McClain missed 3 tackles where he had the back stopped behind the line. He didn't use proper technique and was often out of control. However, he does deliver a nice pop when he faces the ball carrier in tight spaces.
Technique: McClain keeps his pad level low as he explodes out of his stance but as the play progresses he gets high. As his pad level rises, the blocker is able to get into his body impacting his ability to disengage. McClain doesn't appear to be an ideal fit for a 2 gap system because he struggles to lock out the blocker and disengage. He did show quick hands and a suddenness to slip past the offensive line and into the backfield.
Games Viewed: Clemson and UConn
Final word: The more I watched McClain the more like liked about the kid. He is still a bit raw but possesses the athletic ability and size to develop into an effective defensive lineman. McClain showed a great motor and effort which will help with his transition to the NFL. Ideally, he would be a fit as a 3 technique that is free to shoot the gap. However, with proper coaching he might be able to develop into an adequate 2 gap defender; thanks to his thick lower half."
Positive: Explosive defensive tackle prospect who looks best suited for a one gap system. Fires off the snap with a good first step, flashes power, and is tough to move off the point. Keeps his feet driving up the field and slides off blocks to the inside. Plays with good lean, gets leverage on opponents, and is fluid making plays laterally.
Negative: Lacks natural bulk and gets locked up in blocks. Does not display a dominant base or bull rush opponents off the line. Marginal pass rusher.
Analysis: McClain has been a solid player at South Florida the past three seasons yet never truly elevated his game. He offers potential as a possible three-technique lineman or a penetrating tackle on a four-man line."
Negatives: Plays high... Doesn't extend his arms and allows blockers to get into his frame... Loses battles for leverage... Not much of an arsenal... Will over-pursue on running plays... Will miss some tackles... Lacks range... Lacks instincts... Durability issues... Doesn't really stand out in any one area of play."
Weaknesses: Must be kept fresh and must be rotated. Sometimes runs out of moves on the pass rush and then gets stalemated. Average athlete, overall. Not a space eater-type, and can really only be a 3-tech. Lacks size (length) for a 5-tech in the 3-4, and his personality and style are unsuited to nose.
Projection: 6-7th rounder."
By 2008 McClain was a part-time starter. He tallied 32 tackles and three sacks on the year. McClain continued to be a productive member of the South Florida front four as an upperclassman. During his collegiate career, McClain started 33 games. While he was not a consistent pass rusher, McClain did do a solid job of pushing the opposing line back and allowing the ends to get pressure on the quarterback.
McClain will not blow anybody away at his workouts leading up to the draft and that will keep him as a late round selection. However, he does have the size and ability to play tackle in the NFL. And, unlike some prospects, McClain has the experience to come off of the bench and play right away, which is not bad for a late round pick."
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