Todd McShay, of ESPN fame, has created a list of his top 32 NFL prospects from the past 5 years, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Gerald McCoy ranks at #6 on the list. McShay based the list on his pre-draft rankings; this list does not include how the players have performed in the NFL, but instead reflects their final grades heading into their respective drafts. He included prospects from this year’s draft, though only three 2014 prospects cracked the top 25: Jadeveon Clowney (3), Khalil Mack (19), and Sammy Watkins (21). Andrew Luck topped the list, having received McShay’s top rating of any player he’s ever evaluated. While no other Buc made the top 32, 2012 first rounder Mark Barron received an honorable mention.
McCoy was the third player selected in the 2010 NFL draft behind Sam Bradford and Ndamukong Suh. As McShay notes below, he actually gave McCoy the slight edge heading into the draft over Suh, based upon Suh’s potential durability issues. Ironically, McCoy was the one to suffer from durability issues early in his career, while Suh has gone on to terrorize opposing offenses (though not without controversy). McCoy has since come on strong (played in all 16 games in 2012 and 2013) and will continue to be an integral piece in Lovie Smith’s defense. His sacks have increased (5 in 2012 to 9.5 in 2013) as well as his stuffs (5 to 8). According to Football Outsiders, the Bucs ranked 5th in the league in stuffs, and it would be hard not to attribute this success to McCoy’s presence.
Here’s what Todd McShay had to say:
Then: I gave McCoy the slight edge in my grades over Ndamukong Suh as the top defensive player in the 2010 draft class. “Displays exceptional quickness [and] outstanding balance, change-of-direction skills and closing burst for the DT position. … Consistently penetrates and disrupts [versus the run]. … Mentally and physically tough.”
Now: McCoy had a quiet, injury-riddled start to his career after being drafted No. 3 overall by the Buccaneers, but has shown improvement the past two seasons, earning consecutive Pro Bowl bids. Pro Football Focus graded him as the NFL’s top D-tackle in 2013 for his 9.5-sack campaign.
What are your thoughts on McCoy? Do you think he was a better pick/fit for the Bucs than Suh?