By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, April 23rd, 2010 at 6:49 am in Oakland Raiders.
A transcription of Tom Cable’s press briefing with the local media following the selection of Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain:
Cable: First thing, I’ve got to tell you, I’m geeked. That’s the best word I can use. I know it sounds silly but it’s juust 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 and defend the run better. I think we’ve added Kamerion Wimbley to that piece of the puzzle as well. We can then work on the rest of the draft, maybe fixing some other real need issues. But to get a player of Rolando’s caliber with the eighth pick, extremely, extremely excited. Just thrilled right now. I’m buzzing. And the kid was great. He and I have already talked three times since we drafted him. That’s the right stuff.
Q: How easy was it to settle upon him when you could have taken an offensive tackle or a defensive tackle?
Cable: We coveted those four guys who went, McCoy, Suh, Williams and Okung, and just really felt there was a chance they’d go early. They did. They’re all four very, very good players. As I mentioned to you in the pre-draft media day last week, we want to get the needs, 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 that was available to us.
Q: McClain has been described as having perhaps the highest football IQ at the combine in terms of film, prep, etc. Is that your assessment?
Cable: It is. There’s two qualities that jumped out to me about him every time. When I investigated him and knew some people around him, 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 guys put some film on your laptop, put a DVD in, watch it, study. He’s a guy that controlled the entire defense, made the call, adjusted, never came off the field. So I think all those reports were accurate. I was able to hear some of it first-hand which is great. You put a champion in the organization. I think that’s the important thing.
Q: What do you do with Kirk Morrison now?
Cable: I think all it does is give us depth now at linebacking. We’re putting this together to have that kind of depth, to have those quality players. We’ll see what the next week or so brings us.
Q: McClain played inside in a 3-4. Do you see him as a MLB in a 4-3 or might you guys do some 3-4?
Cable: There’s 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. I think anybody who runs that fast can play middle linebacker in that defense. The thing I’m geeked about, 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 into the room. He’s a giant.
Q: Did the interview process sell you on him?
Cable: Yeah. Definitely. I was looking for the same things we looked for last year and that was character. And guys who have had success and worked themselves into being the kind of player I think they can be. He’s done all those kinds of things. With this guy, probably one of his really unique qualities is the football IQ and his leadership. The ability to get others around him to come and enjoy studying the game like he did. I think that’s a real real big-time quality.
Q: Hoe much benefit playing for Nick Saban?
Cable: I think it’s important. We’re fortunate to get a guy who came out of Nick’s system. Nick’s had him for a couple of years. He’s had a chance to develop him. But also share the insights that go with going to the NFL and what’s coming at you and how to handle it. That’s really important.
Q: Any talks with Steelers about Roethlisberger?
Cable: No. There’s been no truth about that. And while I’m at it, however that Darren McFadden thing came out that’s ridiculous. Because 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 was ever going to be traded from this football team. So no and no.
Q: How important to get a winner like McClain?
Cable: It’s huge. Every time you chip away at the last seven years. In order to do it. When you knock some of that baloney away you have to add something good to it. That’s what we’ve been able to do. Certainly with Rolando one of the things he and I talked about is I asked him to be honorable. ‘You come with wear the Silver and Black, there’s a reason and purpose behind it. Come out here the right way, don’t let money and all the other stuff go to your head. Just be who you are. Take it all in stride. Most importantly honor the game and what’s happened to you today.’ I think he’ll do that.
Q: How much impact can one player have on run defense?
Cable: He can’t do it by himself. But we can all get better, which is what we have to do in this game. It’s a good piece to help you improve that run defense.
Q: What was his reaction when told he was a Raider?
Cable: For about 10 seconds I couldn’t hear anything because the living room exploded in Decatur where he’s at. I was able to kind of see it on TV because they went to a satellite feed to his home. A lot of excitement. He was going, ‘Oh my god I can’t believe this.’ So it was a great deal.
Q: What did you see from McClain watching video?
Cable: The guy made plays. He made plays against the run, he made plays against the pass, he could cover, which probably was the most surprising thing in that we play a lot of man-coverage and this guy could cover the tight end and defend in one-on-one situations, as well as intercept balls in space. But the thing that thrilled me the most is that he’s playing in arguably the best college football conference there is, and he’s able to go out there and direct it. They play some 3-4 as their base, but they get into some 4-3 scheme in nickel, and he’s on the field, he’s bumping and covering, running with backs, getting secondary people lined up and communicated. The more you watch this guy, it was pretty easy to feel as a football coach that, man, he’s really got his hand on this thing. And, obviously, you can’t argue with the success they had as a football team.
Q: Did the first seven picks go as you expected, and you got the player you expected to get?
Cable: “Exactly . . . I was sitting there hoping that one of those (offensive/defensive) tackles would come to us like that, but it didn’t. Those first seven went exactly the way I thought it would go. Unless someone slipped or (a team) traded or did something that I hoped for, and it didn’t. When it didn’t, it was perfect, No. 8, Rolando McClain is going to be an Oakland Raider. I’m just tickled about it.
Q: Do you expect McClain to be an immediate starter?
Cable: I think so. I believe that. I believe that’s what we’ve done is added a guy that can walk in here next week, go to mini camp, let’s (grab) the hoe and go to work.
Q: What do you think of the pace of this draft so far?
Cable: Well, the uniqueness of it is that we’ve got three days here, which I’m sure you guys have all talked about it yourself. You’re going to have the first round tonight, then you get a chance to regroup. You get all day tomorrow, basically, to go for kind of a new round 1 and 2 tomorrow night and then you don’t have as much time. You have a late night, and then it’s going to be early morning Saturday. I see it like this because this draft is really laid out, if you’ve listened to people talk, where there’s a certain level of players, 14 to 16 of them in round one that everyone thinks they’re legitimate guys. After that, it becomes a round 2 and 3 draft. So, you’re going to make a lot of hay tomorrow night, that’s for sure.
Q: Is that why people are picking so fast?
Cable: Because you know. You know who they are. I don’t think this draft was hidden, where they were in those top few picks. But you’re going to see it probably slow down here when it gets to about 17, 18, 19 here.
Q: Why all the guys in the trenches going so early?
Cable: I think, first and foremost, it’s been said a lot, it’s a really strong draft on the line of scrimmage. And so you’re going to get quality players, rounds 2, rounds 3, you’re going to get good football players on the line of scrimmage. I think, just the fact that there’s so many of them. I mentioned this last week in the pre-draft deal. In this league, there’s not enough offensive tackles to go around. There’s 32 teams, so you’re looking at 64 guys and really, there’s what, 15, 16 really good offensive tackles in this league? And everybody else, you kind of hold on and hope for the best.
Q: What kind of trade calls did you get there at No. 8 and were you tempted to make a move?
Cable: We have. What’s interesting, if you saw before us, Cleveland, it took them a while 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, 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. And once, again, those two (offensive) tackles were gone, this was a no-brainer that we had to stay there and not move.
Q: Confident you can address offensive tackle needs in next two days?
Cable: You know, I think, more importantly, just offensive line issues. You know, definitely. Whether it’s tackles or wherever, that’s not the point right now. We just need to improve in that area.
Q: What are your priorities from this point on?
Cable: Well, you know, I really don’t want to go specific that way; I think I pretty much told you – address the line of scrimmage and at the same time we needed a defensive back, we need to do some work in the backfield. So that pretty much sums it up.
Q: McClain’s 40-time wasn’t overwhelming . . . did he run faster when you worked him out?
Cable: eah, I mean, you’re talking about a 260-plus pound guy that runs, I think it was 4.67. That’s pretty good. Can you run that fast? (Laughter) I couldn’t either.”
Q: Raiders have drafted skill guys in past, now you’re into nuts and bolts?
Cable: You know, last week in the pre-draft deal, I talked about trying to be more specific to the biggest issues on this football team, need-based. And so, I think, I keep that in mind, not necessarily what’s going on the past few years. But this team is at a point where if we can fix a couple of issues, we’re that much better and we’re that much closer. O.K.? All right? Thank you.