Head Coach Tom Cable addresses the media shortly after The Oakland Raiders selected Alabama LB Rolando McClain with the #8 overall selection in the 2010 NFL Draft. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
Coach Cable: Okay, first thing I got to tell you, I'm geeked. That's the best word that I can use. I know it sounds silly, but it's just what I feel right now. This is obviously a long process that we go through, but this is a great piece to the Oakland Raiders' future. I think getting Rolando in this organization does a lot of good for us. We've got to stop the run, defend the run better. I think we've added Kamerion Wimbley to that piece of the puzzle as well. We can then work, the rest of the draft, on maybe fixing some other real need issues. But to get a player of Rolando's caliber with the eighth pick, I'm extremely, extremely excited. I'm just thrilled right now, I really am. I'm buzzing. And the kid was great. He and I have already talked three times since we drafted him, so that's the right stuff.
Q: How easy was it to settle upon him when you could have taken a tackle, or a defensive tackle, a guy on either side of the line?
Coach Cable: We coveted those four guys who went - McCoy, Suh, Williams, and Okung. We really felt like there's a chance they'll go early, they did. They're all four very, very good players and so, as I had mentioned to you in the pre-draft media deal last week, we want to get the need, the things that are most important. We couldn't get those guys that we really liked; they were taken, that's the way the draft goes. This became the next biggest need to fill to us.
Q: I've seen McLain described as having perhaps the highest football IQ of anybody at the combine, in terms of film and preparation and being into football. Is that what you're seeing?
Coach Cable: It is. You know, probably there's two qualities that jumped out at me about him every time when I investigated him and knew some people around him and all that. He really came back to us as a coach on the field. He was a guy that got everybody in watching film, got guys to go get a laptop and have the film people put some film on your laptop, get you a DVD, slide it in, watch it, study. He's a guy that controlled the entire defense, made the calls, adjusted, never came off the field, and so I think all those reports were accurate. I was able to hear some of it firsthand, which is great. But we definitely…you know, you put a champion in an organization, I think that's an important thing.
Q: He's an inside [LB] in a 3-4. Will we see him as a middle linebacker in a 4-3, or might you guys do some 3-4?
Coach Cable: Well, you know, there are some things that I think will be new for us as a football team. But we're a 4-3 team in terms of our base structure and I think anybody that runs that fast can play the middle linebacker in that defense. The thing I'm geeked about, and when you guys get a chance to meet him for the first time, it's like you're looking at a small guard when he walks in the room. He is a giant.
Q: Did the interview process help to sell you on this kid?
Coach Cable: Yeah. Definitely. You know, I was looking for the same things I think we looked for last year, and that was character. Guys who have had success and have worked themselves into being the kind of player I think they can be and he's done all those kinds of things. And then I think, with this guy, one of the qualities that was brought up, was just the football IQ and his leadership, the ability to get others around him to come and enjoy studying the game like he did. And I think that's a real, real, real big-time quality.
Q: Having played for a guy like Nick Saban, how does that prepare him for the transition into the NFL?
Coach Cable: I think it's important. I think we're fortunate to get a guy to come out of Nick's system. Nick's had him for a couple years, he's had a chance to develop him, but also share the insights that go with going into the NFL and what's coming at you and how to handle it. You know, I think that's really important.
Q: Were there ever serious talks to the Steelers today about Ben Roethlisberger?
Coach Cable: No, there's been no truth about that. And while I'm at it, whoever… how that Darren McFadden thing came up, that's ridiculous, people. There's no way. I don't know how it came out, I don't get it, I don't understand it, but there's no way Darren McFadden is ever going to be traded from this football team. So, no and no.
Q: You talked last week about bringing guys with a winning pedigree, and how important is that to you?
Coach Cable: It's huge to us. Every time, you chip away at the last seven years I guess. In order to do it, when you knock some of that baloney away, you got to add something good to it. And I think that's what we've been able to do. You know, certainly with Rolando, one of the things he and I talked about was asking to be honorable. When you come wear the Silver and Black, there's a reason and purpose behind it. To come out here the right way, don't let money and all that other stuff go to your head, just be who you are, take it all in stride. Most importantly, honor the game and honor what's happened to you today. And I think he'll do that.
Q: One player can't turn around the run defense, but how much impact can one player have on your system?
Coach Cable: Well, I mean, you hit it on the head. He can't do it by himself but we can all get better, which you have to do in this game. It's just a good piece to help you improve that run defense.
Q: You mention how geeked you were about getting Rolando, what was his reaction when you first talked to him?
Coach Cable: You know for about 10 seconds, I could not hear anything because the living room exploded in Decatur, Georgia, where he is at. I was able to see it because they went to a satellite feed to his home. There was a lot of excitement. And he is 'oh my god, I cannot believe this.' So it was a great deal.
Q: What did you see when you looked at video of this guy?
Coach Cable: This guy made plays. He made plays against the run, he made plays against the pass, and he could cover, which I think probably the most surprising thing. We play a lot of man coverage. And, this guy can cover the tight end. And, defend them in one on one situation, as well as intercept balls in space. The thing that thrilled me the most is that he is playing in arguably the best college football conference there is. He is able to go out there and direct it. And, they play some 3-4 base but they get into some 4-3 scheme. And nickel. He is on the field, he is bumping and covering, he is running with backs. Getting secondary guys lined up and communicated. I think the more you watch of this guy. It was pretty easy to tell as a football coach; he really has got his hand on this thing. And, obviously you cannot argue with the success they had as a football team.
Q: Did the first seven players go as you expected and you got the guy you expected to get?
Coach Cable: Exactly, I was sitting there hoping one of those tackles would come to us like that. But it did not. Those first seven went exactly the way I thought it would go. Unless, someone slipped or traded or did something that I hoped for. But it did not. Then when it did not happen, it was perfect, at number eight Rolando McClain is going to be an Oakland Raider. And [we're] just tickled about it.
Q: You have talked about the guy you getting at number eight that he would have to come in and help right away. Safe to assume that you think this guy will come in and hit the ground running?
Coach Cable: I think so. I believe that is what we have done is added a guy who can walk in next week, go to mini camp and break the huddle and let's go to work.
Q: What do you think about the pace of the draft?
Coach Cable: The uniqueness of it is that we have three days here. You have the first round tonight. Then you have a chance to re-group. You have all day tomorrow basically. To go for a new round one tomorrow night. And, then you do not have as much time. You have a late night, and, then an early morning Saturday. I see it like this because this draft is really laid out and if you have listened to people talk, there is a certain amount of players, 14 or 16 of them in round one, that everybody thinks they are legitimate guys. And, after that, it becomes a round 2 and 3 draft.
Q: Everybody talked QB Sam Bradford has great potential, Spiller and a couple other running backs, but mostly it has been the guys in the trenches on both sides. Is that the way the draft is going? Is everybody just looking at the linemen and linebackers?
Coach Cable: First and foremost, it is a really strong draft on the line of scrimmage. And, so you will get quality players in Rounds 2 and 3. You are getting good football players on the line of scrimmage. And, I think just the fact that there are so many of them. I mentioned this last week in the pre draft deal. There are not enough offensive tackles to go around. There are 32 teams and 64 guys. Then there are 15 or 16 really good offensive tackles. Everyone else holds on and hopes for the best.
Q: What kind of calls did you get in, were you ever tempted to move at number 8?
Coach Cable: We have, what is interested, if you saw before us, Cleveland, it took them awhile. And, the word was, they were working on a deal, we were doing the same thing when our time came. And, then when we looked at it. Then we said wait a minute. This is how we thought it would go. This is the best player and it fits an important need on our team to help shore up our defense. Once those tackles were gone, this was a no brainer and we had to stay there and not move.