The Caw: Maybe Not The Most Athletic…

Jameel McClain tweeted that he’s not the most athletic, but nobody will outwork him.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Saturday, July 7th, 2012 at 8:30 am | Categories: Ryan Mink, The Caw

It’s not often that you hear an NFL player call himself “not the most athletic.”

That’s why I was surprised when I saw this tweet from Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain last week:

McClain is a 6-foot-1, 245-pound undrafted free agent out of Syracuse. His NFL Scouting Combine numbers actually tell the story of a player who is more athletic than McClain is giving himself credit for.
He ran a 4.74 second, 40-yard dash at the combine and put up 24 bench-press reps. A 4.74 would have tied McClain for 15th among all linebackers at this year’s combine. His 24 bench-press reps would have been tied for 11th.
As far as intelligence, McClain’s one of the most articulate guys in the locker room. So I’m not sure where he’s getting the “I’m not the smartest,” stuff.
Anyway, the tweet got me thinking about other Ravens who may not be the most athletically gifted players (keep in mind this is comparatively speaking because they’re all superb athletes if they’re in the NFL), but have more than made up for it with hard work and dedication:

  • C Matt Birk
  • FB Vonta Leach
  • LB Ray Lewis
  • SS Bernard Pollard
  • G/T Marshal Yanda

You may be surprised that I included a Hall of Famer in Lewis on here.
But remember, Lewis fell to the back of the first round because of a lack of size. His desire has always made up for that, and the impeccable shape that he keeps his body in has maximized its potential.
It all goes to the larger point that athleticism is just ONE part of what makes a great football player. And it leads me to this quote from Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees on the three things he expects out of a defensive player:
“No. 1, you’ve got to be tough to play defense,” he said. “No. 2, you’ve got to know what to do. No. 3, you’ve got to give great effort. Now, in none of those three did I say anything about athletic ability. Now, if you add athletic ability under that, you’ve got a Pro Bowler.”

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