While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were predicted to be nothing more than miserable this season, it's gotten to a point where it's hard to keep track of all the positive things that happened.
The Bucs won the NFC South for the third straight year, made the playoffs for the fourth straight year, and might have found their quarterback of the future in Baker Mayfield. Todd Bowles coached the team out of a 1-6 slump, Dave Canales has finally started to settle in as a play caller, Rachaad White was compared to Christian McCaffrey, and Antoine Winfield Jr is playing the best football of his entire career.
So much has gone well for the Bucs that it's easy to lose track of everything, like how incredible first-round pick Calijah Kancey has been this year. The rookie got off to a slow start due to injuries, but even in the limited time we saw him earlier in the year it was clear what kind of impact he'd have on the defense.
As he's settled in we've gotten to see more of that and it's catching the attention of all the right people.
Gerald McCoy praises Calijah Kancey: 'The league is in trouble'
Former Bucs star and current NFL Network analyst Gerald McCoy was a guest on WDAE this week and praised what Kancey has done in his rookie season. He went as far as to say he's on track to be among the great Buccaneers defenders when all is said and done.
"The things he's been doing is off sheer talent and ability. He doesn't even know how to play the game yet," McCoy said. "If you look at the surface, his get-off, his strength, his explosiveness, his confidence; those are the things you build on. Once he learns how to play the game he's going to be another great one."
That's pretty high praise considering the rich history of defensive stars Tampa Bay has. Five legends have already been enshrined in Canton, with Rondé Barber being the most recent member to reach the Hall of Fame.
Even guys who aren't in the Hall of Fame, like Simeon Rice, Michael Bennett, Booger McFarland, and Ndamukong Suh, show just how talented the pool of guys who have come through Tampa has been. McCoy is very much high on that list and knows a thing or two about being great, which is why his assessment of how much more dangerous Kancey can be with a full offseason of work makes things more exciting.
"Give him a full offseason where now he's got a year under his belt, he doesn't have to rehab and he's only focused on training, learning how to watch film and how to study," McCoy said. "Getting him more comfortable with the defense, where can [he] take chances, who does he need to alert, seven-man front, eight-man front, Cover-3, Cover-1, knowing what [he] can and can't do -- he learns that, now the league is in trouble."
Let's absolutely go.
Kancey was a wrecking ball against the Eagles in the Wild Card game, finishing with four total tackles, three solo, and a half sack. He also helped force a safety late in the game that officially swung the momentum to the Bucs side.
If there's one thing that McCoy isn't, it's a peddler. He's not going to sell anyone snake oil as analysis, which is why he's such a rising star at NFL Network. He sees in Kancey what Jason Licht saw when he made him the No. 19 overall pick this year, and it seems we're only scratching the surface of his potential.