The third Buccaneer in NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2015 list was revealed on Wednesday night as DT Gerald McCoy coincidentally landed in the exact same spot as last year.
Prior to the 2014 season, players around the NFL considered defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to be one of the top 30 performers in the league. A year later, their opinion of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ three-time Pro Bowler hasn’t changed. At all.
On Wednesday evening, NFL Network continued its “Top 100 Players of 2015” countdown, revealing the men ranked #30-21. McCoy was revealed at #28 on the list, the exact same spot in which he landed a year ago. The annual Top 100 list, which was first introduced in 2011, is based solely on votes cast by current NFL players.
McCoy has made the list three years running, first making his debut at #92 in 2013. His leap from that spot to #28 was one of the biggest jumps on the entire 2014 chart. Despite playing for a 2-14 team last fall and missing three games due to injury, McCoy maintained his spot among the top 30. Landing in the exact same position, while surely coincidental given the nature of the pooled voting, is somewhat noteworthy: He’s the first player on this year’s list to make an exact repeat from last year.
It’s not surprising that McCoy kept his place among the league’s elite after another all-star season in 2014. Before a knee injury robbed him of the last two games of the season, he had an excellent shot at becoming the first Buccaneer to crack double digits in sacks since 2005. His 8.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hits were essentially produced in a little over 11 games, as he also missed time early in the season with a fractured hand. In addition, those numbers don’t fully convey his dominance, as opposing teams commonly tied him up with double and triple-team blocks, which created opportunities for other Buccaneer pass-rushers. Pro Football Focus rated McCoy as the second-best defensive tackle overall in the NFL last season and by far the best pass-rusher at his position. McCoy’s pass-rushing grade on PFF was nearly double the next highest-rated player at defensive tackle (Buffalo’s Kyle Williams).
At the time McCoy was voted into the 2015 Pro Bowl, Buccaneers Head Coach Lovie Smith referred to his top defender as the “best interior lineman in the game.” In addition to the pass-rushing numbers above, McCoy also racked up 35 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, three passes defensed and one forced fumble.