Erik McCoy was the player the New Orleans Saints didn't know they needed until they suddenly needed him. On March 16, 2019 the Saints surprisingly lost their Pro Bowl center, Max Unger to retirement. This announcement placed center as an immediate position of need going into the 2019 season. The Saints immediately signed free agent center/guard Nick Easton from Minnesota the very next day, for four years/$24 million. The Saints wisely didn't look at that signing as the end-all-be-all solution at center in 2019.
Enter Erik McCoy. The 6’4, 303 lb center out of Texas A&M was one of the highest-rated centers in the 2019 NFL Draft, and thankfully for New Orleans, McCoy fell to the second round, allowing the Saints to use their first pick in the draft, 48th overall after trading up with Miami, to select the talented young center. The investment paid off perfectly for the Saints.
McCoy’s combination of youth, size, strength, power, footwork, and vision all made him an actual upgrade over the Pro-Bowler Unger. The biggest things McCoy brought to the table were consistency and health. Those attributes were glaringly missing from the Saints offensive line down the stretch in 2018, especially from Unger at center. For his efforts, McCoy was selected to the All-Rookie Team by the Pro Football Writers of America.
McCoy stood as a pillar of consistency and dependability at his position in 2019. He started every game at center and played 100% of every snap with the exception of one game, in Week 8 against Arizona where he played 92% of the snaps. McCoy has been everything the Saints have needed him to be, and it is not unbelievable to expect even better play from him in 2020.
With the selection of Erik McCoy in last year’s draft, the Saints have set themselves up for long-term success at low cost, allowing them to allocate salary to other positions of need along the offensive line, especially at the glaring Andrus Peat-sized hole at guard, where the Saints were alarmingly exposed in the playoffs. McCoy, with another offseason under his belt will only get better for the Saints. Expect many All-Pro selections for Erik McCoy in the immediate future. It’s almost certain McCoy is glad to be with the Saints, and it is beyond certain the Saints are glad to have him.