Posted May 15, 2013

Rolando McClain cements status as a bust with early retirement

Baltimore Ravens
(Paul Jasienski/AP)

(Paul Jasienski/AP)

He may have been there already, but Rolando McClain guaranteed himself a spot in the conversation over biggest NFL draft busts Wednesday, when the Ravens announced his retirement.

“Rolando let me know that he plans to retire from the NFL,” said Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome, who signed McClain to a non-guaranteed one-year, $700K contract this offseason. “We have placed him on the Reserve/Retired list.”

And so ends (at least temporarily) McClain’s thoroughly disappointing NFL career. The 23-year-old linebacker out of Alabama was the No. 8 pick, by Oakland, in the 2010 draft. but registered just a half-sack in his rookie season. Two more subpar years in black and silver (and off-field issues) led the Raiders to release him.

GALLERY: Draft busts of the modern era

In need of some linebacker help, the Ravens picked McClain up earlier this offseason. He responded to that reprieve by getting arrested in April, his third run-in with the law in less than a year.

One way or another, McClain’s days in Baltimore appeared to be numbered. Between his latest incarceration for disorderly contact and the Ravens’ additions of Arthur Brown and Elvis Dumveril via the draft and free agency, respectively, McClain faced a battle for his roster spot. He instead saved the Ravens the trouble by bailing.

The mere fact that the Ravens had not released him before Wednesday hinted that they were hopeful he could provide some depth at an inside linebacker spot — Brown, Jameel McClain and Albert McClellan look like the top three options for two positions.

Oakland’s selection of McClain back in 2010 came just three years after the franchise whiffed on JaMarcus Russell in Round 1 and one draft following a misfire on WR Darrius Heyward-Bey. The list of players taken after McClain in the 2010 first round includes C.J. Spiller, Earl Thomas, Jason Pierre-Paul, Maurkice Pouncey, Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant.

McClain was a Butkus Award winner in his final season at Alabama and helped the Tide to a BCS national title, before declaring for the draft after his junior season. While there were some questions about his ability to play three downs in the NFL, McClain’s pick by the Raiders generally received high marks (including on SI.com).

Sadly, this was another case where a player’s natural ability never translated to the field at the NFL level — for McClain, due in large part to his failure to stay clean in the eyes of the law.

Given McClain’s young age, this may have the makings of a retirement that does not stick for long. For now, though, the Ravens can forget about trying to make McClain into their latest restoration project.

12 comments
christopher.amaro33
christopher.amaro33

"Talent is the desire to practice".

Quote from Sunday morning news show guest commenting on education.

Most writers and fans get this wrong.  There is a big difference in ability and talent.

All the good ones work fiendishly hard to get better at their craft.  And it doesn't matter which sport it is.

Scramble
Scramble

He would have looked so good in purple and black. I think he was a winter.

JerryBelle
JerryBelle

You can knock the mock drafts and the post draft grades, but you have to place the blame where it truly belongs - on the law-breaking, immature McClain.  Only he can fix himself.

Matthew W
Matthew W

I sure hope he's saved the money from his rookie contract with the Raiders.

usameos6
usameos6

This continues to highlight how ridiculous the post draft "grades" that are handed out truly are.  I remember people saying how NFL ready he was and how this was a solid pick for the Raiders and represented a change from previous drafts where they took the fastest player on the board ....

scBlais
scBlais

I remember so many mock drafts that year having the Giants select him.  So thankful Oakland took him off the board first and the G-Men took JPP.

Mel
Mel

@Scramble He was a winter? As opposed to, what? A summer?

Scramble
Scramble

@scBlais He may have excelled in New York. Oakland isn't the place to send someone with a troubled past.

max1
max1

@Scramble @scBlais and New York is such a quiet sleepy town where no one every gets in trouble. 

Mortis37
Mortis37

Oakland wasn't the place to send someone with a troubled past.

fixed