Sean Taylor is on a very short list of my all-time favorite players. Taylor was a ball-hawking safety who hit like a linebacker and ran like a deer. He was 6’3” 230 lbs. Unfortunately Taylor’s career ended prematurely when he was murdered in his Miami-area home only three and a half years into his professional career in 2007.
When he was in college people talked about a “new breed” of safeties who would come up like him. But God hasn’t made many athletes as big and as fast and as hard-working as Sean Taylor. So that “new breed” never really materialized.
Nobody should confuse Dexter McCoil for Sean Taylor. Taylor was on his way to a Hall of Fame career. Such a comparison isn’t fair to either player. But they are similarly sized and both play safety. McCoil is within 5-10 lbs. of Taylor’s weight, McCoil is plenty fast for a safety though not quite as fast as Taylor, and he’s maybe an inch taller than Taylor was. And as for the “hits like a linebacker” part, prior to joining the Chargers, McCoil was an inside linebacker for the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League. And you can be certain that Minnesota’s TE, Kyle Rudolph, doesn’t doubt McCoil’s strength.
McCoil is also fairly adept at tracking down the ball in the air. In college, McCoil amassed 18 interceptions; 17 in his final 3 seasons. McCoil played his college football for Tulsa.
When current 3-4 and 4-3 defenses began to proliferate the NFL teams still ran the ball more than they passed. In today’s modern NFL teams usually pass the ball more than 60% of the time. And modern offenses realize that 3-4 WR sets spread defenses out which also makes running the ball easier. Using a traditional “front 7” against an offense where 4 or 5 guys may be heading out into passing routes is fool-hardy. As such, teams routinely employ 4-2 or even 3-2 “fronts” with 5-6 defensive backs. When teams do this they are particularly vulnerable to being gashed by a run play.
Having a player like McCoil who can provide run support and who can drop into coverage, especially one who won’t be overwhelmed by height/weight combos of modern TEs and WRs, helps minimize the advantages for which modern offenses scheme.
McCoil isn’t projected to be a starter but he’s getting a lot of reps and making a lot of plays with the Special Teams unit and in the Minnesota game he was on the field with some of the first-team guys on defense. Check out this highlight video of McCoil and notice the athletic ability this young man has.
McCoil’s unique height/weight plus his unique coverage and run-stopping experience and abilities make him a very valuable member of the roster. I don’t want to project him as free safety or strong safety (I really think he could do either), but if either Jahleel Addae or Dwight Lowery are ineffective or hurt, I think McCoil could grab hold of a starting role and hang on to it for years.
Thanks for reading.