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Gerald McCoy and the Missing Production

I am not a Gerald McCoy denier. I do not equate his modest production with modest talent. I do not ignore his age advantage over Ndamukong Suh. I understand his great potential, but not why anyone would rate him as the best overall prospect in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Could Mike Mayock suffer from a contrarian leaning? Whenever one is scouting, they must constantly recalibrate their scouting eye. Humans are innately biased. Petty biases can hurt one's impression of Jimmy Clausen. One would hope anyone with a high paying and prominent position could overcome presumptuous character biases. Is Clausen truly less mature or less of a leader than Ben Roethlisberger? Can a losing quarterback be a leader or winning one avoid it?

More sophisticated biases persist. We develop biases built around prior success. Identifying that DeSean Jackson was a capable receiver could cause me to overvalue a similar small but productive receiver like Dexter McCluster. We build short term biases. If a player starts a game poorly, sometimes we can color their later performance with that initial impression. We develop expectation biases that cut both ways. If a player seems overhyped or underappreciated, it can be hard to avoid popping their bubble or championing their cause.

Maybe I expect too much of Gerald McCoy, but it would be nice if this top five prospect played a game in which he showed top five play. I have not seen it and do not know of it. Through one quarter of the Sun Bowl, it's hard enough to know where he plays on any give down.

1. 1st and 10 at STAN 27 Toby Gerhart rush for 3 yards to the Stanf 30.

LDT, 1-tech, 3 down linemen. McCoy gets an ok jump and drives left. He does not otherwise factor.

2. 2nd and 7 at STAN 30 Tavita Pritchard pass complete to Griff Whalen for 2 yards to the Stanf 32.

RDE, 3-tech, 3 down linemen. McCoy is double teamed. Pritchard rolls right and finds Whalen. DNF.

3. 3rd and 5 at STAN 32 Tavita Pritchard pass intercepted by Quinton Carter at the Okla 36, returned for no gain to the Okla 36.

RDT, 1-tech, 3 down linemen. McCoy gets a decent jump, is double teamed but pushes the pile. Most importantly, his presence frees the right defensive end who pressures Pritchard and helps forced the interception. It's a boneheaded pass into triple cover.

1. 1st and 10 at STAN 24 STANFORD penalty 5 yard false start accepted.

McCoy lines over left guard Andrew Philips. Philips false starts and is then shed by McCoy, but the play is called dead.

2. 1st and 15 at STAN 19 Toby Gerhart rush for 6 yards, fumbled, recovered by Stanf Toby Gerhart at the Stanf 25.

LDE, 1-tech, 3 down linemen. McCoy is slow off the snap and it hurts. He is double teamed back 2 ½ yards before he sheds, squares but does not tackle Gerhart or make a strong play for the ball. Toby falls on it.

3. 2nd and 9 at STAN 25 Tavita Pritchard rush for 14 yards to the Stanf 39 for a 1ST down.

RDE, 3-tech, 3 down linemen. Oklahoma is overloading the offensive right, and McCoy's job is to attack the offensive left. He does, working through a double team and flashing free momentarily off left end. Stanford's blockers reposition themselves in front of McCoy and he does not factor further before Pritchard passes.

4. 1st and 10 at STAN 39 Tavita Pritchard pass complete to Ryan Whalen for 42 yards to the Okla 19 for a 1ST down.

LDT, 1-tech, 4 down linemen. Stanford is moving the pocket right and that creates some prominent gaps between its offensive linemen. McCoy seizes on the right "A" gap and fires into the backfield. This is a slow, slow developing play and one you would fully expect a slender, disruptive tackle like McCoy to contribute to, but as Pritchard slides into the right flat, McCoy is never more than remote and never provides meaningful pressure. Prtichard finds Whalen free after busted coverage. Whalen cuts across field and for 42.

(Timeout Oklahoma)

5. 1st and 10 at OKLA 19 Toby Gerhart rush for 19 yards for a TOUCHDOWN.

LDE, 5-tech, 4 down linemen. Stanford sets in a wildcat and a peculiar one. Four wide receivers set in a super-bunch formation that resembles a diamond. Another receiver is wide left. Gerhart receives the snap. McCoy gets a strong jump, cuts in and is single blocked by tight end Jim Dray. Dray gets a good piece of McCoy, not hitting him or staggering him, but staying square, grabbing a little shoulder pad, and all-in-all neutralizing him. Gerhart picks his way left and away from McCoy, through some arm tackles and in for the touchdown.