Jerry Reese didn’t give much insight into specific players at yesterday’s pre-draft press conference. But he did note after the formal question-and-answer period that he has no problem bringing in players from one system to play in another.
The underlying subject there is Rolando McClain and the idea of him being a 3-4 inside linebacker in college who might not be able to play the middle in the 4-3 that the Giants use. Reese’s basic point: I pick the players and the coaches show them what to do.
That’s certainly been the case lately, although not always with great success. Bryan Kehl was a 3-4 outside linebacker who has not quite found his footing in the 4-3 (maybe he will as he moves to the middle this season). Chris Canty was a 3-4 defensive end and (mostly due to injury) we’re still not sure where he fits best in the 4-3 scheme.
So if the Giants pick McClain on Thursday night, will they have a problem squeezing him into a round hole at middle linebacker in their 4-3?
Not according to the guy who first taught McClain to play in that system.
That would be Jere Adcock, the decorated 14-year head football coach at Decatur High School in Alabama who coached McClain when he was there just three years ago.
“I really don’t think it’s going to be a problem for him in either direction,” Adcock told me.
There will be more in a story this weekend, so keep an eye out for it. I don’t know how much emphasis to put on the observations and decisions of a high school coach, even one as accomplished as Adcock. And guys play all kinds of positions in high school that they don't in college or the pros -- quarterback, safety, running back, etc.
But I’ll let you know this: McClain actually started out as an outside linebacker his first two years at Decatur but was moved to the middle so that teams could not simply run away from him. In the middle, Adcock said, McClain could go sideline to sideline. Which is exactly what the Giants might be hoping he’ll do for them. And there were plenty of concerns a few years ago that McClain would not be able to adjust to the Alabama 3-4 system after playing in Decatur’s 4-3. Well, he only started as a freshman and won the Butkus Award and a national championship this season.
"He understands the game," Adcock told me. "It doesn’t matter what he’s doing, if he's playing basketball or football, if he's a linebacker or a tight end. It doesn’t matter. He understands the game and he does a great job at learning what everyone around him is supposed to be doing. He understands how everybody fits into the puzzle."