Boston College Senior
PROS: Works well in pursut with nice speed and closing burst, wrapping up the ballcarrier. Is comfortable working in zone coverage. Shows some burst through hole to shoot gaps and make stops in the backfield.
CONS: Not a strong tackler and lacks pop. Not that effective at the point of attack and struggles to get off blocks there. Not a smooth athlete and doesn't change direction well in space, and thus struggles in man coverage. Doesn't play with great awareness, biting on play fakes and can get caught looking in the backfield. Will overpursue at times. Doesn't have great closing burst when used as a blitzer. At times seems tentative to attack the hole and take on the block.
OVERVIEW: McLaughlin showed some guts having suffered a torn Achilles this past spring, but still managed to play in and start 9 games this past year. His best season was as a junior where he had 89 tackles, 12 for loss, and 4 sacks. Also served as a reserve long snapper at BC.
NFL FORECAST: McLaughlin doesn't offer a lot of upside to play on defense. He is a good pursuit player that lacks good speed and range. He's limited in man coverage, although he has some ability to play in zone, although he'll never be an impact player there. He could play in either a 3-4 or 4-3, but probably is just a backup MLB in either scheme, and not the type that teams will want to put on the field over extended periods of time. Instead, his upside may be more as a fullback. He's got the build you like in a fullback, and flashes the physical nature that you want in a smashmouth lead blocker. He wouldn't be great there, but could potentially develop to a level where he could make a decent starter down the road. But regardless, him sticking in the pros will be based on his ability to impact on special teams. If he can prove himself to be a capable snapper, that increases his chances of sticking, especially if teams are going to try and move him to offense. He'll need at least a year or two to develop there to a point where you think he could earn a roster spot on his blocking abilities alone. I'd like his chances more if he played for the Patriots, because Belichick likes that kind of versatile player.
ATL FORECAST: He could push for time as a reserve middle man behind McLaughlin, but unless he really shines in his first summer on special teams, he's not really an upgrade over Gilbert. And while he can be an interesting project at fullback, he's not going to contribute much there until two or three down the road. So his best chance to make the Falcons roster if he can somehow unseat the long snapper. Not high odds. He's a good body to have in camp because he can potentially push for time at three positions, but is just a body mostly.
VALUE: Because McLaughlin doesn't have a strong position that he could shine at, he's best going undrafted. But a team should definitely bring him to camp to compete for some position.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.