In this Insider post, Mel Kiper takes a look at guys who were early draft picks in 2010 that he expects to take big leaps in 2011.
The one guy from the NFC South he has on the list is Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Kiper says his main reason for big expectations from McCoy is the fact the Bucs have added help at defensive end by drafting Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers. He’s right about that, and their presence on the outside certainly will help McCoy on the inside.
But I would have put McCoy on a list of rising players even if the Bucs didn’t beef up at defensive end. I thought McCoy was really starting to come on strong last year before suffering a season-ending injury. The Tampa Bay coaches said the same thing.
McCoy was just starting to get used to the NFL game when he got hurt. He also wasn’t able to get used to playing with Brian Price, who the Bucs drafted in the second round last year. Price got hurt before McCoy. Put them back together in a rotation with Roy Miller and there’s some talent on the inside of the line.
Now, there’s talent on the outside. Throw in the fact McCoy is supposedly working this offseason to add more upper-body strength and that’s why I think he could be poised for a breakthrough season.