New Orleans Saints’ Erik McCoy’s best and most productive years may still be in front of him, and he has a chance to cement his status as an elite offensive lineman in 2022.
A second-round pick in 2019, McCoy made an impact on the Saints from Day 1, starting all 32 regular season games in his first two years and playing all but eight offensive snaps during that two-year span.
McCoy mostly played guard at Texas A&M but transitioned to center in the NFL, and at only 24 years old, he could serve as New Orleans’ starting center for many more years to come. His consistency and durability make him the most important Saints’ O-lineman behind Ryan Ramczyk, yet he doesn’t have a single Pro Bowl honor to his name.
Could 2022 be the year he takes his game to the next level and gets the recognition he deserves?
The Athletic’s Nate Tice picked McCoy as an offensive lineman who could break out in 2022:
"McCoy has an excellent skill set of size, technique, athleticism and smarts that every team covets at center. That intelligence allows the Saints offensive line to always move in the correct direction.It was a shame McCoy was injured so early last season, as he was looking to build upon a positive 2020. With a healthier year, McCoy has a chance to establish himself as a true Pro Bowl-caliber player in 2022."
New Orleans Saints center Erik McCoy is due for a Pro Bowl year in 2022
Last year, McCoy graded out as one of the team’s best offensive linemen despite NOLA’s ongoing quarterback issues. The Saints’ passing attack ranked dead last and the offense averaged just 117 yards per game on the ground, but McCoy proved to be a high-performing run blocker who also gave up zero sacks in pass protection.
Injuries ravaged the Saints’ O-line, and McCoy, too, missed four games due to a calf injury and started the fewest amount of games in his career.
With NOLA’s pitiful 2021 offensive performance in the rear view window, McCoy can return to his elite and consistent form with the added bonus of playing with a more stable supporting cast in 2022.
Compared to Cesar Ruiz, who has yet to live up to his potential, McCoy has served as the perfect starting center ever since Max Unger retired back in 2019, and no one should be doubting his value. The Saints know where McCoy’s floor is, but they want to see how high his ceiling can be in 2022, especially since McCoy is entering the last year of his rookie contract.
Quality offensive linemen are hard to come by, and if McCoy can put together his best season yet for the Saints, NOLA will almost certainly extend him.
Here’s hoping McCoy earns his first Pro Bowl this year and firmly establishes himself as the Saints’ center of the future.