When the Carolina Panthers released Terrell McClain at the end of training camp, he was viewed as the biggest bust in his draft class to date. But on Wednesday, the former third-round pick was given new life in his NFL career.
McClain, who was selected 65th overall out of South Florida in 2011, signed with the Patriots on Wednesday and was already out on the practice field sporting his fresh No. 93 jersey. But while the move means undrafted rookie Marcus Forston is no longer with the team, McClain offers up more than just undeveloped talent.
A big body that can fill in at defensive tackle, McClain's primary purpose is likely to firm up a line that is struggling to cope with Brandon Deadrick's absence inside.
At 6-foot-2 and 300 pounds, McClain brings good size as an interior lineman. He may not bring the intimidating presence of a Vince Wilfork (6-foot-2, 325 pounds), but he's got the build necessary to make plays up the middle.
Aside from his size, McClain is also a good athlete. He showed good lateral quickness at times with the Panthers last season. He's much more of a run stopper than a pass rusher, which is evidence by his 19 tackles and lone sack in 12 games in 2011.
McClain's athleticism and agility should bode well for a run defense already exploited once this season.
Ray Rice ran all over the Patriots defense to the tune of 20 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown, in the Ravens Week 3 win. For a team that had held Chris Johnson to 11 carries for four yards just two weeks prior, this may have raised some eyebrows.
Deadrick's absence from the rotation may have left Wilfork, Kyle Love and Ron Brace winded and unable to play to their normal capabilities. So as New England prepares to potentially face the powerful tandem of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson in the Bills' backfield on Sunday, the addition of an athletic lineman up front seems attractive.
The Panthers hasty decision to cut ties with McClain after just one season obviously presents concerns about his work ethic and durability in the NFL. But with so much raw talent yet to be harnessed, it's definitely worth giving the 24-year-old a chance to prove his worth and make an impact.
Photo via Facebook/Terrell McClain