GERALD MCCOY, Defensive tackle
The 2010 season was a curse and a blessing for McCoy, brought in to be the disruptive three-technique tackle in the Baby Bucs' defense. The blessing: being drafted third overall. The curse: being drafted third overall at the same position as Ndamukong Suh, who went one spot earlier. Working with better outside rushers and a better noseman beside him in Detroit, Suh was a dominating inside presence and had 10 sacks. McCoy never got his pass rush working, producing just three sacks.
In came defensive ends with the Bucs' first two picks this year, and a new pass-rush coach, Keith Millard, who's simplified McCoy's role so that he can exploit his athleticism. "It's simple," says McCoy, a two-time All-America at Oklahoma. "I'm playing football, not thinking as much. I'm an instinctive player, and this system helps me." The only time McCoy gets a little testy—and just a little; he's a polite sort—is when the Suh comparison comes up. "He's in Detroit, I'm in Tampa, and that's about it," he says. "He played great last year. He was put in a different situation than me, and I would say the cast around us was a bit different." With the edge rush strengthened (and, the Bucs hope, noseman Brian Price back to full strength from a hip injury), McCoy's rush skills will have a better chance to surface this year.