McCoy, Westbrook and the '09 draft
How does LeSean McCoy compare to Brian Westbrook? And did the Eagles get the right running back in the '09 draft? Here's a look at those questions.
McCoy, Westbrook and the '09 draft
LeSean McCoy is not Brian Westbrook.
But after Thursday night's win against the Texans, in which McCoy caught eight balls for 86 yards, a reporter asked Andy Reid if McCoy was on Westbrook's level in the screen game.
"I would say that if [McCoy's] not, then he's surely getting there," Reid said. "He's doing a nice job with it. I think they're both pretty good at it."
So let's take a look, shall we? How does the season McCoy's having compare to the all-time seasons Westbrook had as an Eagle?
Let's start with the run game. Statistically, Westbrook's best seasons were 2006 and 2007. Here's how McCoy's projected numbers stack up with Westbrook's during those two seasons:
|'10 McCoy (projected)||224||1,098||4.9||9.3||6.7|
McCoy doesn't quite measure up to those Westbrook seasons, but he's certainly in the ballpark.
A couple notes on McCoy as a rusher. He's spoken at length about how he strengthened his lower body in the offseason, and it's shown. McCoy is averaging 5.7 yards per carrry (45 carries, 255 yards) in the fourth quarter of games. Those numbers were of course helped by his performance against the Giants where McCoy had runs of 50 and 40 yards in the fourth quarter.
Not surprisingly, McCoy's been better running to the left side (behind two of the team's better run blockers in Todd Herremans and Jason Peters), where he's averaging 5.1 yards per carry. When McCoy's gotten to the left sideline, he's averaging 8.9 yards.
Up the middle, McCoy's averaging 4.7 yards per carry; 3.9 to the right; and 3.0 to the right sideline.
Here's the comparison as a receiver:
|'10 McCoy (projected)||89.3||712||8.0||2.7||6.7|
Let's start with receptions. McCoy is right there with Westbrook. He's got 67 catches through 12 games to lead the Eagles. That number is good enough for seventh in the NFL and is by far tops among running backs (Peyton Hillis is second among with 53). McCoy has 16 catches in the last two games.
He's in the mix in terms of receiving yards also. McCoy has 534 through 12 games - once again tops among NFL running backs (Arian Foster is second with 479). Again, the last two games have helped here as McCoy totaled 153 receiving yards against the Bears and Texans.
In yards per catch, Westbrook has him beat. But McCoy is up from last year when he averaged 7.7.
And finally, there's that big-play number: receptions that gained 20 yards or more. McCoy has five; he also has five such running plays for a total of 10 plays of 20 yards or more. He admitted after last week's game that taking those plays to the end zone is the next step for him.
That's where Westbrook really has the edge. In his prime, he was a threat to score every time he touched the ball. McCoy is not there yet, although you can now comfortably say that when he's one-on-one with a defender, he's going to almost always win.
And let's not forget the blocking game. Westbrook was among the best in the league. McCoy has made great improvements, as we saw a couple weeks ago when he took it to Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, but he still has some work to do there.
McCoy and the '09 draft
The Eagles selected McCoy with the 21st pick in the second round of the 2009 draft (53rd overall), and as of this writing, it sure looks like they got the right guy.
McCoy was the fourth running back selected, behind Knowshon Moreno (1st round, 12th overall), Donald Brown (1st round, 27th overall) and Beanie Wells (1st round, 31st overall). Here's how McCoy stacks up among that group:
As you can see, there's not much of a comparison. There were running backs taken after McCoy like the Jets' Shonn Greene and the Panthers' Mike Goodson, but he's got them beat also.
It has to be mentioned that second-year back Arian Foster has been better than all these backs in terms of rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and yards per carry. Foster, however, was an undrafted free agent.
Among running backs selected in the '09 draft, McCoy ranks first in rushing yards, rushing TDs and yards per carry (minimum 50 carries).
He leads all second-year players (receivers included) with 67 catches.
Again, many of the numbers here are projections for McCoy. He still needs to stay healthy the final four games and continue to produce at a high level. We can revisit both parts of this discussion a month from now to see how the final numbers measure up.
By the way, you may notice a new header on the top of the blog. Thanks to the talented Chris Corter for that. In addition to the hundred other things on his plate, Chris was nice enough to help me out with the new look.
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