When news broke that the Ravens would be adding former Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain, social media accounts from Ravens fans blew up with the typical “Trust in Ozzie” messages. While McClain provides some of the best on-field talent a team could get for the veteran minimum price tag, the Ravens clearly aren’t expecting much, at least at this point.
During the pre-draft press conference on Tuesday, McClain’s name was brought up a few times by media members asking head coach John Harbaugh and other members of the front office their opinions on the eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft.
“Rolando is just getting an opportunity to come in and make our 53-man squad,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “That’s it.”
Before signing with the Ravens after being released by the Raiders five days prior, McClain didn’t just have to pass a physical – he had to pass a “Come To Jesus” meeting with Harbaugh and Newsome.
Upon McClain’s release, the immediate connection to the Ravens became speculated because of Newsome’s strong ties to Alabama, where McClain starred before deciding to forgo his senior season after winning the BCS National Championship.
Surprisingly, it was an alum of Alabama’s archival, Auburn, that had all of the information on McClain.
“The first person I talked to about Rolando was Joe Hortiz, and he went to Auburn, just for the record,” Newsome said, speaking of the Ravens’ director of college scouting. ”Joe has a very good relationship with the people that work at the University of Alabama.”
Newsome received information from Hortiz on how McClain would conduct himself in Baltimore, and wanted to know more about how he was going to be part of the football team in general. Even though most of the strong mentoring leadership has since moved on from the organization after last season, Newsome still believes there is enough of a support system in the locker room to mentor the 23-year-old McClain.
“I think the guys in the locker room will be able to provide him with the proper guidance that he needs as to the way John wants his football team and his football players to be,” Newsome said.
The talent McClain possesses when wearing a helmet is unquestioned; it’s just that he can soon find himself out of the league for decisions he makes while not wearing one. Signing with the Ravens benefits both parities involved, as the Ravens get a talented player at a bargain price, and McClain gets the chance to audition for a proven winner and to potentially sign a longer-term and more lucrative contract – either in Baltimore or elsewhere – in the future.