In the 2010 NFL Draft, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced– much to the dismay of the New York Giants fans gathered in Radio City Music Hall—that the Oakland Raiders selected Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain with the 8th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Hopeful that McClain would be the replacement of Antonio Pierce, Giants fans expressed their disapprobation with a litany of boos.
Fast forward to the present day, and one who follows the NFL knows that the Raiders spared New York fans of suffering through a disappointing three year stint where McClain never materialized into a defensive leader. McClain, who had documented off field issues, never matured into a Patrick Willis-like defensive field general.
But one must look at an entirely different –albeit similar–case to realize that all hope is not lost for the former top 10 pick. James Farrior, once the 8th overall pick of the New York Jets, was widely labeled as a bust among the NFL’s top pundits after a disappointing tenure with the aforementioned team. Then, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Farrior to a contract in 2001 and he was a part of a linebacker corps that assisted in the 2000s revival of the Steel Curtain.
While Farrior never had legal troubles, there are several consistencies between the two. Primarily, they were both cut by organizations that aren’t highly touted in the NFL. Often there is internal strife in the Jets and the Raiders- a stigma that is not often associated with the more renowned Steelers. Likewise, the Giants are an organization that ranks among the NFL’s finest.
Who McClain signs with could dictate the course of his career, but if the Giants take a chance on him, they could reap the benefits of a player who has the potential to have been seen as a top 10 pick. Coming off a dismal 2012 season where he played only 11 games and accumulated a mere 60 tackles, McClain would benefit from the rigid structure that Head Coach Tom Coughlin implements in his locker room. With some tutelage, McClain could regain the success that he had during his second year- a season where he had 99 tackles and 5.0 sacks.
Barring the Plaxico Burress incident of 2008, Coughlin’s players have typically conducted themselves in a responsible manner off the field. If there is one coach that could maximize McClain’s potential and keep him out of trouble, it is Coach Coughlin.