The Raiders watched as four of their top five targeted players flew off the board as they waited to make their first-round selection Thursday night.
Fortunately for the Raiders, Alabama inside linebacker Rolando McClain was there for the taking at No. 8.
McClain might not have been Oakland's top choice, but he is the player they expected and hoped to be there if the first seven picks played out as expected, coach Tom Cable said.
Cable made no secret of his desire to bolster his offensive and defensive lines in this year's NFL draft. That will take place in the final six rounds today and Saturday, he said.
The Raiders "coveted" defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy and offensive tackles Trent Williams and Russell Okung. All four were gone within the first six picks.
Once the Cleveland Browns selected Florida cornerback Joe Haden at No. 7, the Raiders wasted little time in pouncing on McClain.
"We want to get the needs, the things that are most important," Cable said minutes after selecting McClain. "We couldn't get those guys that we really liked. They were taken. That's the way the draft goes. This became the next biggest need that was available to us."
This marks only the third time the Raiders have selected a linebacker in the first round since the common draft started in 1967. The others were Rob Fredrickson and Napoleon Harris, but neither went as high as McClain.
Few people pegged the Raiders taking McClain. They did such a thorough job of disguising their intent that even McClain got caught by surprise.
"I had no idea, really, that the Raiders were that interested," McClain said in a conference call. "All I know is, they came down the last week and talked with me. But I don't know, they weren't like the other teams that I thought were interested in me."
Raiders managing general partner Al Davis is fond of adding linebackers beyond the first round and via free agency. McClain, though, was too tempting to pass up.
Cable said he is "geeked" about getting McClain and throwing him into the linebacker mix. McClain won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker last season.
McClain, 6-foot-3 and 254 pounds, played inside linebacker in coach Nick Saban's 3-4 scheme at Alabama. He said he's just as comfortable playing middle linebacker in a 4-3 scheme, out of which the Raiders will continue to operate, Cable said.
"Rolando McClain is one of the finest players I have ever had the opportunity to coach," Saban said in a release from the University of Alabama. "He is also a great leader and an outstanding young man who will be a tremendous asset to the Oakland Raiders organization."
Time will tell what incumbent starting middle linebacker Kirk Morrison thinks about the Raiders' first-round pick. Cable made it clear that he isn't sold on Morrison by forcing Morrison to compete for his job during training camp last summer and then giving Morrison the lowest tender as a restricted free agent in March.
For now, Cable said McClain will be thrown into the fold as soon as the team convenes for a three-day minicamp next week.
McClain's coaches rave about his penchant for breaking down videotape, working hard and functioning like a coach on the field.
He played a pivotal role in Alabama's national title last season. McClain said he intends to carry over that winning mentality to a Raiders team that has won just 29 games the past seven seasons.
"I'll do whatever it takes to win, no matter if it's go out and yell at a guy during practice, just to get everybody up, or just to get everybody together," he said.
Note: An ESPN report Thursday morning said the Raiders were receptive to trading running back Darren McFadden at some point during the draft. The Raiders responded by calling McFadden three times to tell him that he wasn't being shopped. Cable had this to say: "That's ridiculous, people, because there's no way. I don't know how it came out. ... I don't understand it, but there's no way Darren McFadden was ever going to be traded from this football team."
Today: 39 (Round 2), 69 (Round 3)
Saturday: 106 (Round 4), 138 (Round 5), 215 (Round 7), 251 (Round 7)