This week’s unsung hero is a guy that has no shortage of talent and 3 down ability, but due to the immense strength of his position group, he is often left to rotational and special teams duty.
He really made his presence known last night against Green Bay, recording 3 tackles and playing in relief duty of Von Miller on the occasional play. Let’s take a closer look at Outside Linebacker Lerentee McCray.
Here’s some stats on the 3rd year Bronco
Name: Lerentee McCray
Size: 6’3, 249 LBs
Went undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft (Signed with the Broncos immediately after the draft)
2015 Stats: 8 tackles, 0.5 sacks
Career Stats: 14 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 pass deflection, 1 forced fumble
The Story: McCray’s story with the Broncos can best be summed up as “close, but no cigar”. As the highest paid rookie free agent in the Broncos 2013 draft class, much was expected of McCray to not only compete for a spot on the 53 man roster, but make an immediate impact with this team.
He got off to a great start in his rookie training camp, but unfortunately fell victim to a season ending injury which cost him his rookie season. Since then, he has gone on to make the Broncos 53 man roster the past two seasons and has been a heavy contributor on special teams and in the defensive rotation.
So you may be wondering, what classifies him as a “unsung hero”? I’ll give you three reasons.
- Von Miller
- Demarcus Ware
- Shaq Barrett
The meteoric rise of Barrett’s play along with Miller and Ware’s All-Pro skill sets have limited McCray’s time in the defensive rotation this season. Sometimes, people like to speculate why a player isn’t playing up to their potential. If you ask me, McCray could be a starting outside linebacker for many teams in the NFL right now.
In my opinion, the reasoning for his spot on the roster has more to do with the tremendous depth of players that you have at that position more than his ability(or lack thereof) to play the position on a more consistent basis.
Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Lerentee McCray (55) in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game against the Indianapolis Colts at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Before coming into the NFL, McCray played in 42 games for the Florida Gators (17 starts) and recorded 65 tackles, 4.5 sacks and forced a number of turnovers. Similar to his current plight with the Broncos, I feel like McCray experienced a similar scenario while in college.
He played for a college that is known to recruit great athletes and overall players into their program, making things difficult to establish yourself as a consistent player.
I think the part time play in college definitely lent a hand in his undrafted status, but make no doubt about it, he has had starter upside and ability throughout his college and NFL career.
McCray comes across to me as one of those guys that has been a role player for a team for many years, but when he gets his chance to play more often(whether it’s through injury to another player or signing with another team as a free agent), he could win a starting job and be an every down player in this league.
Time will tell on how this unsung hero’s pro career will shake out, but make no mistake, he has the ability to be one of the most valuable players on this defense.