TAMPA — In the spring of 2010, one of the biggest debates during the week leading up to the NFL draft was which defensive tackle would be selected first: Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy.
Both figured to be highly productive NFL players. Suh had 24 sacks in four seasons with the Huskers. McCoy had 14½ in three seasons for the Sooners. Suh played with a mean streak and was more quiet off the field. McCoy was affable but had a lightning-quick first step that made him disruptive in the run or the pass game.
Suh went No. 2 overall to the Lions. McCoy went No. 3 to the Bucs. Both wear No. 93. Suh was defensive rookie of the year. McCoy suffered through two injury-plagued years to start his career. Both are five-time Pro Bowl players.
They meet again at 1 p.m. today in Miami Gardens when McCoy's Bucs face Suh's Dolphins. In his own words, here's what McCoy had to say about Suh:
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"Here's the thing. We were at the Monday Night Football shoot together. And when I saw him, we walked to the hotel. There's such a mutual respect between us because we've known each other since college. When we (were) in the shoot, there were like four or five 2010 draft class guys and we all got into a circle, and we've held it down. That's just how we look at it.
"People think there's a rivalry or whatever. Suh is just how he is. He's an introvert. He doesn't really talk to a lot of people. He doesn't do all that. I'm more outgoing. But when I see him and he sees me, there's a mutual respect.
"There's never been a rivalry. We don't actually play against each other. One thing we said when we first got drafted. We said, 'Let's take over this league together.' We don't have to do it like this, but let them remember us.
"But it's not just us, it was three of us. It's me, Geno (Atkins, Bengals defensive tackle) and Suh, we were all in the same class. We've been trying to hold it down since we came into the league, so that's how I look at it.
"I look across the league and if I see Geno and Suh doing well, I feel good. That's my class. It's great, I love seeing (Suh) have success. He's a hard worker. We'll get a scouting report on him in the team meeting and we'll have to deal with him."