NAPA -- Nick Roach wasn't drafted in the first round, never won a Butkus Award and throughout his six-year NFL career has managed to avoid the spotlight for all the right reasons.
All of which made him the ideal choice to replace the departed Rolando McClain as the Raiders middle linebacker.
"I wouldn't know," Roach said Saturday, preferring to avoid comparisons with one of the most colossal draft busts in franchise history.
Roach is in the middle of a retooled defense that could have as many as nine new starters. He's understated, unimposing (6-foot-1, 234 pounds) and everything coach Dennis Allen is looking for in a defensive leader.
Claimed by Chicago off the practice squad of the San Diego Chargers in 2007, Roach played six seasons with the Bears at inside and outside linebacker.
"I've been extremely impressed with him as a young man, the way he goes about his business," Allen said. "He's extremely smart. He's just as good against the run as the pass. He was outstanding in Chicago, but he just happened to be in the shadow of Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher."
During passing drills, Roach managed to stay with fleet running back Darren McFadden on a corner route, breaking up a pass in the end zone. When practice came to a close, Roach met McFadden in the backfield on a draw play, withdrawing upon contact in the non-padded session.
Humble beginnings as an undrafted rookie out of Northwestern have kept Roach grounded. He sees every camp the same way he did when trying to make the Chargers practice squad.
"In my mind, you've got to make them see something in you to keep you around because it's performance-based," Roach said.
McClain was an enigma from the day he arrived as the No. 8 pick in the first round out of Alabama in 2010 to the time he was suspended last season after a confrontation with Allen. His issues with law enforcement in his hometown of Decatur, Ala., were well-documented.
Signed by the Baltimore Ravens after the Raiders cut him this offseason, McClain abruptly retired from football, which was fitting in that he seldom displayed any joy playing as a professional.
Roach displays all the qualities Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie hold dear.
"I talk about guys that we want on this team that love football, are willing to work and put the team first," Allen said. "He epitomizes all three of those characteristics."
"The trainers will take a look at them, but I don't see any serious injuries," Allen said.
Holmes was already a long shot to make the Raiders roster.