Two former Tide players selected in first round of NFL Draft

TUSCALOOSA, AL - Former Alabama middle linebacker and 2009 Butkus Award winner Rolando McClain was selected with the eight overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft on Thursday evening by the Oakland Raiders at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and cornerback Kareem Jackson was then taken with pick No 20 by the Houston Texans.

McClain and Jackson are the second and third Crimson Tide player to be taken in the first round in the past two years joining offensive tackle Andre Smith, who was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals with the No. 6 overall pick in 2009.

"I wasn't shocked to go this early, but I was shocked about going to Oakland," McClain said Thursday evening. "We weren't even really talking to Oakland. But I'm really happy about the chance to play for the Raiders. This is what I've been working for."

McClain, a native of Decatur, Ala., is the first Crimson Tide linebacker taken in the first round since Dwayne Rudd was taken by Minnesota with the 20th pick of the 1997 draft. It is the first time the Raiders franchise has selected an Alabama player since Roosevelt Patterson went in the fifth round in 1994. McClain's selection marks the first time Oakland has ever taken an Alabama player in round one.

"Rolando McClain is one of the finest football players I have ever had the opportunity to coach," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "He is also a great leader and an outstanding young man who will be a tremendous asset to the Oakland Raiders organization. The University of Alabama appreciates all he did as a person, student and a football player in his time at the University and I'm sure he will be a wonderful ambassador for our football program in the future. We are pleased and happy for Rolando and his family and we wish him well in all his future endeavors. Rolando will always be a part of the Crimson Tide family."

McClain, a unanimous first-team All-American that declared for the draft following his junior season, recorded a team-high 105 tackles in 2009 to help lead the Crimson Tide to the school's 13th national championship. He also recorded 14.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, two interceptions, six pass breakups and 14 quarterback hurries.

Jackson hails from Macon, Ga., and is the first Alabama defensive back taken in the first round since Fernando Bryant went to Jacksonville with the 26th pick in 1999. The Texans used a third round choice on center Antoine Caldwell a year ago and took All-Pro linebacker Demeco Ryans in the second round in 2006.

"I am very excited to be a Houston Texan," Jackson said Thursday night. "They kind of threw me for a loop because I had not heard from them since I met with them at the combine. I just can't express what a great opportunity this is, and how excited I am to be selected by the Texans. Antoine Caldwell (former UA offensive lineman) has told me what a great organization they have in Houston and I'm very anxious and eager to get down there and start playing football."

Jackson, who also declared for the draft following his junior season, made 49 tackles with one interception, 13 pass breakups and three tackles for loss. He started 40 games during his UA career with five interceptions and 29 pass breakups.

"We are very happy for Kareem Jackson as well as his family," Saban said on Thursday. "I think it is a real credit to Kareem that he was able to elevate himself to a first round pick with the great job he did at the combine, in his workouts and during the interview process leading up to the draft. He played a lot of very good football in his three years with us at Alabama and he will be an outstanding addition to the Houston Texans organization. Like all of our players moving on, we wish him the best, and he will always be a part of the Crimson Tide family and a part of history at the University of Alabama in terms of what was accomplished here."

The second and third round of the NFL Draft continues on Friday evening from Radio City Music Hall in New York City.