2015 NFL Free Agency Preview: Top Five Inside Linebackers

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Sep 28, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Rolando McClain (55) in game action against the New Orleans Saints at AT&T Stadium. Dallas beat New Orleans 38-17. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

1. Rolando McClain

Pros: Big, nasty inside run-stuffer who is a menacing presence on the interior of a defense when he’s on his game. McClain has great size and good speed to play the position, and can diagnose a play with the best of them. He also brings a certain “nasty” to the position that is rare in the modern NFL, and when he’s dialed in, is a top-tier NFL linebacker.

Cons: he can’t keep out of trouble. A former first round pick by the Raiders, his career in Oakland was marred by multiple arrests, conflicts with coaches, and general immaturity. After he was cut loose, he retired from football briefly and now seems to have his life back in order. But now the news is that he has violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy and will be suspended for four games next season.

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  • Scheme Fit: McClain is a Mike linebacker in any defense you want him in. He can be a 3-4 Mike, a 4-3 Mike, and he can do what he does as well as any player in the league. He has a very high football IQ, and that translates to a scheme fit almost anywhere.

    Market Value: next to nothing. He will find some team that wants him, but it won’t be for a lot of money, not with his checkered past and his current suspension issue. Look for him to get grabbed later in the offseason on a one year deal at or near the veteran minimum.

    Would he sign with the Raiders: absolutely not. Reggie McKenzie has already been down this road with this troubled young man, and with him facing a suspension again, McKenzie isn’t going to go down it again. Rolando McClain is every bit the football player Al Davis expected him to be, but he’s got a long way to go as a man.

    Next: 2015 Free Agent ILB Rankings: #2 Nate Irving