Senior Bowl: Devin McCourty of Rutgers Pushing for First-Round NFL Draft Status

Andrew WeaverCorrespondent IJanuary 26, 2010

Never before had Rutgers produced a first-round pick in the NFL draft until Kenny Britt was chosen by the Tennessee Titans with the 30th overall pick last year.

Just one year later, "Rutgers" could find its way exiting Commissioner Roger Goodell’s voice box not once, but twice, in the first round in the 2010 NFL Draft.

The consortium of NFL draft analysts has essentially agreed that Rutgers offensive tackle Anthony Davis will be a first-round selection.

In fact, some mock drafts have predicted Davis to be a top-five pick overall.

But former Rutgers cornerback and special teams player extraordinaire Devin McCourty is making his push to be a first-round selection, as well.

The only Rutgers senior to be selected to play in the 2010 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., has already created some buzz after the first two days of practice.

Some observers and scouts have highlighted his good instincts and ability to change direction and defend the pass.

During the course of his collegiate career—this past season specifically—McCourty displayed his ability to be a shutdown corner for the Scarlet Knights while playing the position with a high level of physicality.

During the 2009 season, McCourty recorded the second-most tackles on the team (80) and had 10 passes defended, with one sack.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock already has McCourty as his fifth-ranked cornerback in this year’s draft—and if he continues to impress this week and beyond, McCourty could creep up even further.

As a cornerback prospect alone, McCourty possesses the talent to stand up against the best of his peers and could easily find his name being called in the mid- to late second round.

But its McCourty’s special teams expertise that could propel him into the first round.

In his career, McCourty has blocked six punts.

Not one. Not three. Not four. 

Six punts.

That includes three during his senior season.

Talk about a ball hawk. McCourty has always found himself around the football as if he were a predator and the pigskin were his prey.

And he does not only play a factor in defending punts, but he also serves as a gunner when Rutgers is punting the ball away.

Most of the time, he’s the first red jersey to the ball and is wrapping up a tackle before his fellow Scarlet Knights catch up.

As if he wasn’t versatile enough, McCourty returns kicks, too.

He even returned one for a touchdown against UConn on the opening kickoff.

Now, one of the most common phrases used when discussing rookies and young players in the NFL is “finding a way to see the field.”

With McCourty’s array of talents, he should see playing time early on, regardless of where he gets drafted.

But NFL coaches like smart players who make plays, and McCourty exemplifies just that.

“He’s incredibly gifted, No. 1,” said Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano. “He has speed and elusiveness—and then he is incredibly prepared. He does it all. He blocks kicks, returns them, covers on them. He’s going to be a great pro football player.”

Is he going to be the second Rutgers player selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft?

If he can continue to impress NFL scouts this week of practice and showcase his arsenal of skills during the 2010 Senior Bowl, there is no telling how high McCourty’s draft stock could climb.

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