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Rolando McClain arrest unlikely to significantly alter Ravens' draft strategy

Baltimore RavensFootballRolando McClainRay LewisNFL DraftJohn Harbaugh

The latest arrest for trouble-prone middle linebacker Rolando McClain shouldn't greatly impact the Ravens' draft strategy, if at all.

Regardless of the fact that McClain is now facing misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in his hometown of Decatur, Ala., the Ravens still were in need of further reinforcements at inside linebacker.

With middle linebacker Ray Lewis retired, inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe gone to the Miami Dolphins via a $35 million free agent deal, and inside linebacker Jameel McClain still awaiting medical clearance from a spinal cord contusion suffered last December, the inclination to strengthen the position already existed.

Now, the argument can be made that this negative development only increases the likelihood that the Ravens address the position quickly in the NFL draft. Even if this never happened, the Ravens were already in the market for an inside linebacker.

Rolando McClain was signed to a one-year, $700,000 contract with a $400,000 playtime incentive clause that could have boosted the maximum value of the deal to $1.1 million. The Ravens included no guaranteed money in the contract, so there was minimal risk involved.

Whether the Super Bowl champions choose to cut ties with McClain due to another legal problem remains to be seen. The fact is, though, the former Oakland Raiders' starter was never regarded as the lone answer for the Ravens to replace Lewis and Ellerbe.

Despite his talent and ideal size, the 6-foot-4, 258-pound consensus All-American and Butkus Award winner from Alabama wasn't consistent on the field during three disappointing seasons with the Raiders.

The Ravens are expected to remain interested in potential first-round linebackers such as Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, Georgia's Alec Ogletree and LSU's Kevin Minter. Minter is the only one of the three who's definitely expected to remain available for the Ravens' 32nd overall pick of the first round, and he could be a good option for them because of his steady play and leadership.

The Ravens could also opt to wait and address the position in the second round, perhaps with Kansas State's Arthur Brown or even later in the draft with North Carolina's Kevin Reddick.

Should the Ravens decide to move on quickly from McClain before the case is adjudicated, no one would blame them.

It would be chalked up to an experiment and a second chance that just didn't work out despite McClain assuring general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh that he had changed his ways.

McClain claimed to the Ravens that he had learned his lesson from his history of past transgressions that includes being arrested in January in Decatur for allegeding providing a police officer with a false name following a traffic stop. 

Last year, McClain resolved an assault case in Decatur when he reached a financial settlement with the alleged victim, a former high school classmate. He was initially convicted of third-degree assault, reckless endangerment, illegal discharge of a firearm and menacing charges before appealing the verdict successfully.

Still, nothing has been lost from the Ravens attempting to upgrade the position by giving McClain an opportunity he may have squandered in terms of money spent or by them missing out on other players.

The larger point is the Ravens needed to obtain more linebackers anyway. So, now they will. With or without Rolando McClain on the roster.

awilson@baltsun.com

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Baltimore RavensFootballRolando McClainRay LewisNFL DraftJohn Harbaugh
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