Getting a feel for McClain is a little more difficult because he did not play very many snaps for the Houston Texans and would come off the field most of the time in passing situations. I chose to watch him against the San Francisco 49ers because the Niners are a power team and in Week 17 against the Tennessee Titans because it was a meaningless contest and I wanted to see the effort.
McClain offers some flexibility. He played nose tackle in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme and slid over to defensive end a times. He is probably more suited for the one-technique with the Cowboys but might be able to help as a three-technique in small doses.
An AFC scout told me McClain is better suited for a 4-3 and is a one-gap player but not a 16-game starter.
Against San Francisco, McClain got caught in the wash a few times, especially on some goal line runs where he could not anchor. He plays well with his hands and he is active. Late in the game he played right defensive end and was pretty quick off the ball, which caught guard Mike Iupati by surprise. He played in only 18 of 53 snaps in the game.
Against Tennessee, he was more active. He was able to slip by the center and stop Chris Johnson for a 1-yard gain. He has good feet and does not stop moving. If he is blocked, he will continue to chase the ball, which I thought was a positive in the final game of a lost season for the Texans. He did not show much in terms of pass rush but he played with OK length. He tried a spin move but it didn’t really work out too well.
The Cowboys signed McClain to be a rotation player and that’s what he looks like. I’ll offer this up as well: I liked him better than Earl Mitchell, who received $9 million guaranteed from the Miami Dolphins as a free agent. Granted it was only two games, but Mitchell looked like he was easier to block than McClain in those two games.