It’s no secret that the Minnesota Vikings need help at middle linebacker.
Former starter Jasper Brinkley left to join the Arizona Cardinals via free agency. The Vikings only have two other options currently on the roster – Marvin Mitchell and Audie Cole – and neither is ready to hold down a starting gig in the NFL.
While the 2013 NFL Draft will offer up a few options to fill the void, the Vikings could consider a “bargain bin” free agent to get them through this upcoming season: Rolando McClain.
After being released by the Oakland Raiders, McClain is now on the hunt for a place to call home in the NFL. But is Minnesota a serious option for the former No. 8 overall pick?
At first glance, it doesn’t seem like McClain is a good fit. Especially with GM Rick Spielman putting an emphasis on finding high-character players, McClain is in no way, shape or form a fit for that mold. The former Raiders middle linebacker has been arrested several times since entering league, with reasons ranging from discharging a firearm to lying to an officer. Not exactly the model citizen that Spielman is looking for.
From a football perspective, McClain still isn’t an ideal fit to man the middle for the Vikings. Since the Raiders made him a Top 10 pick in 2010, the Alabama alumnus has done nothing but disappoint. He failed to live up to his hype as the next great NFL linebacker and doesn’t have the coverage skills to be a three-down linebacker in the Vikings’ Tampa 2 scheme.
Still, there is one bit of silver lining to the lackluster start to McClain’s NFL career. He was playing for the Raiders.
For the last decade, the Raiders have made a mess of seemingly-elite talents. Although the problem isn’t quite clear, they seem incapable of getting the most out of the top-tier prospects that they bring aboard.
If the Vikings could get McClain at a discount price, it might be worth it to see what they could get out of the 23-year-old. There’s no denying that he had potential coming out of college, but it all appeared to slip down the drain with the Raiders. With a better, stricter coaching staff and a supportive locker room, McClain might actually be able to harvest some of that upside that got him drafted No. 8 overall.
It’s a low-risk, high-reward move, especially if the Vikings sign him to a deal that includes no guaranteed money. If McClain really is a bust, they sever ties and move on. If a change of scenery is the ultimate remedy, the Vikings got a huge steal.