Pete Prisco published his annual NFL Top 100, which is apparently a mandatory thing for every sports outlet out there. He spoke to NFL personnel executives to get some quotes and help build the list, which gives it some extra color, if not necessarily credibility.
NFC GM No. 4 on McCoy: "He's a complete game-changer. He has size, speed, quickness and agility. He disrupts the NFC South on a game-by-game basis."
We've been saying this for years now: Gerald McCoy is the best three-technique in the NFL. He was a game-changing player while still being limited by schemes that asked him to move around and stunt, rather than simply rush the passer. He's a dominant player at the most important position in his defense, and he's finally going to be allowed to run free and do what he does best.
Last year, when the Bucs played the Seahawks, he was allowed to straight rush eleven times in a game, and he managed to get a pressure on nine of those plays.
In short: these are going to be some fun, fun times for McCoy in Tampa, and everyone involved with the Bucs. Except for the guy negotiating his contract.
Lavonte David similarly garners praise from Prisco and GM No. 4, with the linebacker coming at number 22 on Prisco's list.
NFL general manager No. 4 on David: "Has great range and plays fast. He's a playmaking linebacker, a run-and-hit guy who makes tackles all over the field."
AFC personnel director on Johnson: "Great athlete with average motor. He got paid, and I think he disappoints this year. Not a guy you hate playing against."
That kind of sounds like the consensus on Julius Peppers before coming to Chicago and dominating for three seasons. A great athlete who hadn't quite lived up to his promise. Well, surviving with a mediocre motor under Lovie Smith isn't about to happen. And if it does, the Bucs aren't so invested in him that they can't move on to the next guy.
Overall, this is a pretty solid list for the Bucs, with some fair concerns about Michael Johnson and some more-than-deserved praise for Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David. The Bucs are getting plenty of recognition on the level of individual players. Now they just need to earn it as a team.