Nov 27, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain (55) on the sidelines during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
5. Rolando McClain
Selected: No. 8 overall, 2010
Seasons played for the Raiders: 3
Games started for the Raiders: 38
Rolando McClain was regarded by many as the top defensive player in the 2010 draft, and was by near consensus far and away the best college middle linebacker to hit the draft in a generation.
The captain of the national vhampion Alabama defense under Nick Saban, McClain was a big, punshing linebacker with great work habits and a high football IQ who was going to work out perfectly as a three-down NFL middle linebacker.
And at first, he was exactly that for Oakland. Early in his rookie year he got fans excited when he body-slammed Rams receiver Danny Amendola on a pass play over the middle in a Raider victory.
He was a solid interior run stuffer, and made a few plays as a zone defender in John Marshall’s aggressive Al Davis-approved defensive scheme.
He finished third on the team in tackles and helped the Raider defense finish 2nd in the league against the pass and 11th in total defense as the team won 8 games in a season for the first time since 2002.
McClain remained the starter during the 2011 campaign, and in Chuck Bresnahan’s defense recorded five quarterback sacks, as the team again went 8-8 despite the defense finishing 29th in the league.
Late in the year, on Dec. 1, 2011, McClain was arrested in his hometown of Decatur, Ala., for a shooting incident in which it was alleged that he fired a gun into the ground next to another man’s head during a fight.
He was infamously photographed smiling while handcuffed as he was placed into a police vehicle, a picture that has come to define him. He was convicted of all charges in May of 2012, though the case was later dismissed on appeal in November of the same year.
McClain started 2012 off by hitting Jason Witten so hard in a preseason game that Witten went out with a lacerated spleen. But it was all downhill from there. McClain, who had begun to struggle against the run in 2011, regressed further, being caught out of position over and over as the Raiders kept losing.
He was losing snaps to Miles Burris. He was openly clashing with head coach Dennis Allen — his third NFL head coach in three NFL seasons. On Nov/ 29, 2012, Allen kicked McClain off the practice field, and McClain took to Twitter, telling the world that he was “mentally done” and “no longer an Oakland Raider.”
McClain was however still a Raider, but after another arrest in January 2013 — this time he gave a fake name to officers pulling him over for a window tint violation and wrote “f*** y’all” on the ticket — the writing was on the wall.
He was officially released April 5, 2013. He was arrested again on April 21st for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. McClain would briefly appear in Ravens training camp, then sat out 2013, only to return to the NFL as a Dallas Cowboy last season and put together an impressive season in relief of the injured Sean Lee.
McClain was suspended in February for a substance abuse violation, but re-signed by the Cowboys on a one-year, $3 million deal.