McCoy outperforming peers from '09 draft class

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LeSean McCoy established himself as one of the top running backs in his first full year as a starter. (Ron Cortes/Staff file photo)

Right around this time a couple years ago, LeSean McCoy wasn't feeling too good.

After deciding to leave Pitt early, he didn't participate in drills at the combine because of a bout with the flu. An NFL.com article wrote at the time that the experience left McCoy battling "mild depression" and "major frustration."

He did meet with several teams in Indy, including the Eagles, who decided a couple months later to take a shot on McCoy in the second round (53rd overall), making him the heir apparent to Brian Westbrook.

Two years later, the McCoy pick looks like a home run. Three running backs were taken ahead of him back in '09: Denver selected Knowshon Moreno at 12; the Colts took Donald Brown at 27; and the Cardinals went with Beanie Wells at 31. McCoy has outperformed all of them after putting together a 2010 season that warranted Pro Bowl consideration.

Here's a look at the top 10 second-year running backs in terms of rushing yards last season:


Att.
Yds.
YPC
TDs
20+
Arian Foster
327
1,616
4.9
16
12
LeSean McCoy
207
1,080
5.2
7
7
Knowshon Moreno
182
779
4.3
5
3
Shonn Greene
185
766
4.1
2
1
Ryan Torain
164
742
4.5
4
7
Donald Brown
129
497
3.9
2
4
Rashad Jennings
84
459
5.5
4
1
Mike Goodson
103
452
4.4
3
3
Beanie Wells
116
397
3.4
2
1
Bernard Scott
61
299
4.9
1
0


Foster, the guy who tops the list, went undrafted before breaking out with the Texans last season. McCoy was second to him in attempts, yards and rushing touchdowns among second-year backs. And McCoy was tops (among second-year players with at least 100 carries) with a 5.2 YPC average.

In fact, league-wide, only Kansas City's Jamaal Charles (6.4) and New York's Brandon Jacobs (5.6) averaged more yards per carry.

Of course, the numbers above don't even take into account McCoy's production as a receiver. He ranked third among all second-year players (not just running backs) with 78 receptions, behind only Hakeem Nicks (79) and (ready for this?) Danny Amenodola (85).

Foster (604) is the only back who had more receiving yards than McCoy (592).

The big-play ability was a big part of what launched him forward in his second season. As a rookie, McCoy had just one carry of 20+ yards in 155 attempts. Last season, he had seven (one every 29.5 attempts).

And while his elusiveness was what earned McCoy attention across the league, his toughness shouldn't go unnoticed. According to STATS.com, only two running backs were better in third-and-short situations. Miami's Lousaka Polite converted 12 of 13 chances. Green Bay's John Kuhn converted 10 of 12. And McCoy wasn't far behind, going 8-for-10 in those situations.

In the fourth quarter, he showed the ability to be a closer. McCoy averaged 6.1 yards per carry in the final 15 minutes, second to only Charles (6.3).

Despite carrying the full load for the first time in his NFL career, McCoy showed no signs of slowing down during the Eagles' stretch run, averaging 5.9 yards per carry in December. And he raised his level of play against divisional opponents, averaging 6.4 yards per carry in those matchups.

Football Outsiders ranked him as the sixth-best running back in 2010, behind Charles, Foster, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Maurice Jones-Drew and Adrian Peterson.

McCoy will turn 23 in July and has two years left on his rookie contract. But after two seasons, it looks the Eagles made a great call with their 2009 selection.


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