Can Jameel McClain Be Ray Lewis' Replacement?

KANSAS CITY MO - JANUARY 09: Wide receiver Dexter McCluster #22 of the Kansas City Chiefs is tackled by linebacker Jameel McClain #53 of the Baltimore Ravens during their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 9 2011 in Kansas City Missouri. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

After being an undrafted free agent out of Syracuse University four years ago, Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Jameel McClain has earned the respect and praise of his coaches, teammates and now obviously the front office. According to BaltimoreRavens.com, the team has placed a second round tender on the Restricted Free Agent, meaning that any other team that wants to sign him once free agency opens up, would have to surrender a second round draft pick to the Ravens as compensation.

Not bad for a guy that no other team felt was worthy of even a seventh round draft pick. After sitting on the bench most of his first two seasons, McClain started 15 of the 16 games in 2010 and finished third on the team in tackles. It was looking like the Ravens wanted to see fellow University of Miami LB Tavares Gooden next to Ray in the middle when he was selected in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft. However, Gooden never seemed to be the guy the Ravens hoped him to be and has since faded into relative obscurity.

Next the team signed undrafted LB Dannell Ellerbe out of Georgia and he looked very solid in his limited time as a rookie, making many think that he, not McClain was on the rise to the perhaps the next great Ravens inside linebacker. However, for varied reasons, depending on who you ask both inside and outside of the Ravens organization, Ellerbe did not make the strides that he seemed on the verge of and McClain has been able to take full advantage of his opportunities.

Is he the next great linebacker, much less Ray's future replacement?? Who knows, but remember, the Ravens defense employs two inside linebackers, so while Jameel McClain might not be "the one," he could still be "one of the two."

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