Not a huge surprise, but at least we know for sure now that LeSean McCoy is going pro next year. Pretty big blow for Pitt if you ask me. They have a good offensive line, but he was basically a one man team if you ask me. Those are some large shoes to fill for the Panthers. My brief glance at Pitt's roster seems to indicate that they are returning most of their defense and some of their o-line to go with Bill Stull and Jonathan Baldwin, but they were built around McCoy.
Should be interesting to see what Pitt looks like next year. With McCoy, I thought Pitt would probably be our second toughest game next year, but that game looks a little less imposing without him there. It's tough to really count any game as a likely win after all of the disappointing losses in 2008, but I'm not complaining about McCoy going pro.
Even if we were not playing them next year, I think McCoy is making the right decision. If you are a running back in college who is projected for the first round (or even the early 2nd round), you'd be crazy to come back to college. Too much risk of injury, and there's no reason to put extra wear and tear on your tires if you aren't getting paid for it. In the NFL, you only have so many miles on those tires as a running back, so it makes sense to get to the NFL as soon as you are ready. If you are a running back, your skill set in the NFL essentially boils down to whether or not you can run the football and stay healthy. That's it. Once you have proven you can do that, go to the league and start earning a paycheck. LeSean McCoy proved this year that he's one of the elite backs in the country. He had nothing to prove by coming back next year. Yeah, he probably could improve his draft stock a little bit, but the risk is too high for injury.
I think McCoy would be a good late 1st round pick, but an even better 2nd round pick. He would be a steal as a second rounder. With his speed and strength and ability to break tackles and catch the football, he's tailor made for a pro style NFL offense. The only question on him will be whether he gets banged up. He's kind of a Cadillac Williams player, so I hope he doesn't get hurt in the league.
I'm generally opposed to using high picks on running backs these days because of their short life span as a player and the high risk of injury/busts, but a guy like McCoy would have some value if you got him in the second round. I'd rather get McCoy in the early second than use a first rounder on Beanie Wells.