Saints Sophomore Spotlight: Erik McCoy

Bob Rose

Heading into the 2019 draft, the New Orleans Saints were looking to replace their Pro Bowl center Max Unger, who had retired after the previous season. New Orleans did not have a selection until the end of the second round, but swung a trade with the Miami Dolphins to move up to the 48th overall pick. The Saints used that pick to draft Erik McCoy, an impressive offensive lineman from Texas A&M.

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Aug, 3, 2019; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints center Erik McCoy (78) during training camp practice at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

McCoy was installed as the immediate starter and successor to Unger at center. He would start every game for the Saints during the 2019 season, playing in 99% of the offensive snaps. The 22-year-old McCoy anchored a New Orleans offensive line that allowed only 24 quarterback sacks and averaged nearly 109 yards per game on the ground. He finished the year as a Pro Bowl alternate and was voted onto the 2019 All-Rookie team.

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Aug 9, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints center Erik McCoy (78) blocks against Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson (94) during the first quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The 6’4", 314-pound McCoy has good quickness and excellent strength for the position. He gets into his pass protection stance quickly, setting a good anchor against power rushers and staying light on his feet to handle finesse moves. He fires off the snap with terrific power as a run blocker and uses terrific technique and leverage to gain an advantage, along with the quickness to get to the second level of a defense effectively. His ability to handle the league’s best interior linemen one on one gives the New Orleans line a big advantage when attacking defenses.

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Aug 9, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints center Erik McCoy (78) blocks on a screen during the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Erik McCoy has outstanding athleticism and operates well in space, often able to pull outside on screens and edge runs from his center spot. With the Saints spending this year's 1st Round draft choice on Michigan center Cesar Ruiz, McCoy’s athleticism and football intellect could result in a move to starting right guard. A vacancy created by the teams release of Larry Warford. McCoy was up to the challenge of replacing a Pro Bowl center as a rookie and has the skill set to handle the challenge of repeating the feat at guard if asked. Regardless of whatever position he plays, Erik McCoy has the look of a perennial Pro Bowler with a bright NFL future. 

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