Much like rapper Corey Woods (of Wu-Tang Clan fame, better known by his stage name, “Raekwon”), former Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan is a supremely gifted individual, but is often overshadowed by the performances by his counterparts.
The Pittsburgh Steelers love Ohio State defenders, and they could be in the market for a middle linebacker this offseason, depending on how Lawrence Timmons’ impending free agency turns out. Even if Timmons does return, it will likely be on a short term deal, and Pittsburgh can certainly afford to get younger at the inside linebacker position.
Enter McMillan, a remarkable in-box linebacker who exemplifies Big 10 football. Let’s check the specifics:
Position: Inside linebacker
Height/Weight: 6-foot-2/230 pounds (pre-Combine)
Awards/Honors: First-team All-Big 10 2016; 2016 Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year, 2016 Second-team All-American
2016 stats: 102 total tackles (7 for loss), two sacks, five passes defended, two forced fumbles
McMillan actually mirrors Timmons in terms of play style. He obviously fits the new prototype mold in terms of size, and scouts seems to agree almost unanimously that he is an exceptional pro-ready tackler. He plays particularly well in the box, as evidenced by his 221 tackles over the past two seasons. Although McMillan isn’t quite as athletic as Derron Lee or Ryan Shazier, he has become proficient in diagnosing runs, and he rarely takes bad angles. His solid form tackling and instincts should translate well to the NFL and potentially make him a day one starter, especially as the Mike in 3-4 schemes.
Dude came off the field a lot on third down. This isn’t to say that he is a total liability in coverage (he did have five pass break-ups, after all), but it does indicate that maybe he has a ways to go before he is able to play all three downs.
I have also read a lot of scouting reports criticizing McMillan’s fluidity, primarily stating that he has inflexible hips and choppy feet. McMillan will have to fix this if he hopes to effectively defend pass-catching running backs.
The bottom line:
McMillan is a picture-perfect Big 10 linebacker; a bull-headed, run-stuffing tackling machine. His tackling abilities and uncanny instincts will keep his floor relatively low, but his ceiling could be somewhat limited by choppy footwork. However, a strong Combine showing (particularly in the 40-yard dash and agility drills) could quell these fears and propel McMillan into the first-round.