A quick search for Gerald McCoy scouting reports on Google reveals various links to reports from the 2010 NFL Draft. They are littered with details of great strengths and few weaknesses listed about McCoy’s talents. Accompanying the praise are lofty comparisons to the likes of under tackles Tommie Harris and Kevin Williams, both products of Oklahoma like McCoy.
They were both absolutely terrifying pass rushers in their prime with electrifying quickness and endless motors, but they also had a string of injuries that slowed down or derailed (in Harris’ case) their careers. It seemed like that might be the case with McCoy too after he had consecutive biceps injuries in his first two seasons that saw him play only 19 of a possible 36 games. But three weeks into his third season, McCoy is completely healthy and completely dominant. He’s compiled three sacks and been equally productive against the pass and run.
Watching McCoy on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys was a treat. He was primarily aligned outside of the guard’s shoulder (three-technique) for the Buccaneers, and then he slid inside the front even further when he lined up across the inside shoulder of the guard (shaded two-technique) before finally playing some straight up 0-technique across the face of the center. No matter where he lined up, he was a force.
His quickness, power, and work ethic proved to be a deadly combination as he made Tony Romo uncomfortable throughout the entire game. Even when Romo thought he’d avoided him, McCoy was there after knifing through the interior of the offensive line, beating the likes of Nate Livings on numerous occasions, and picking up three quarterback hits along with two sacks.
A fine example of McCoy’s dynamic talents came on his sack early in the third quarter against Livings. Livings is the left guard, and McCoy lined up to Livings’ left on this play as a three-technique.
With the ball snapped, McCoy set up from the ground up by building a strong and wide base (pictured) and then he got his hands on Livings. He started off by getting his right hand quickly on the inside of Livings and then followed that up with a powerful club with his left hand.
Because of the powerful base, McCoy was able to club Livings with his utmost power to knock him off balance before continuing his path to Romo.
What followed next was electrifying. McCoy engaged with the center, and once again used a wide base and strong hand use along with lower pad level to jolt the blocker before getting by him.
After jarring the center, McCoy continued his push up the field as he grabbed on to a piece of Romo’s jersey. He held on to it tight and eventually brought Romo down for the sack with great power. This was the kind of ability that was seen at Oklahoma and made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Perhaps an overlooked part of McCoy’s Sunday performance was his run defense. He pitched in with four tackles, but what stood out was his discipline. He played with an endless motor and still remained disciplined by filling his gap, and preemptively cutting off any potential cutbacks into the open field by the dynamic DeMarco Murray, who stated after the game that it was tough to run the ball all day long and “there wasn’t a lot of creases up there”.
I’m admittedly a fan since McCoy’s days at Oklahoma, and now the hope is that he’s able to finally stay healthy and showcase his talents weekly.
What he’s done thus far is simply the tip of the iceberg as he’s still learning how to play with consistency and fully utilize his skills. As he masters his craft, he should become one of the league’s most dominant players (again, assuming he stays healthy) and perhaps become a superior player to Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, a level some believed he would reach.
With his “programmed” work ethic and overall great character, he most certainly has the chance to do just that.