Patriots fans, meet your newest player.
After trading down twice in the first round, the New England Patriots actually didn’t trade out of the round, unlike last year. With the 27th pick, the Pats selected cornerback Devin McCourty, a senior out of Rutgers.
Although McCourty flew under the radar a bit, New England is getting a talented player at a position at which they sorely need help.
In four years as a Scarlet Knight, he amassed 261 tackles, six interceptions, two-and-a-half sacks, and two forced fumbles. In 2009, he was a first team All-Big East selection.
While not a shutdown corner like Darrelle Revis or Nmandi Asomougha, McCourty comes pretty close. He’s very good in coverage and is an equally good tackler.
Not necessarily predicted to be a first rounder initially, McCourty had a strong Combine with a strong 4.38 40-yard dash time that possibly pushed him into the first day of the draft.
With good speed, he also has returned his share of kickoffs. Without Wes Welker for the beginning of the season, New England could really use someone to step up in that area.
However, returning kicks isn’t even his strongest skill on special teams, where he is often used on the kick blocking unit. Whether he immediately sees time at the cornerback position or not, it is good to know that as he’s learning, he can still contribute to the team on special teams.
Over his college career, McCourty blocked six punts and one field goal attempt, and scored on a 98-yard kickoff return.
Pats fans shouldn’t worry about him being a copy of Ted Ginn Jr. though—a first-round pick whose main attribute was returning kicks but severely underperformed at his listed position. McCourty is an all-around player who very well could see major playing time at a weak position.
Overshadowed by teammate and top prospect Anthony Davis (a mammoth offensive tackle taken by the San Francisco 49ers with the 11th overall selection), McCourty did not get much attention by the media. However, he is a pretty complete player that New England should be able to use right away.
McCourty also fits the mold of high character players, which are becoming more important as high-profile guys like Ben Roethlisberger are being suspended for poor conduct off the field. McCourty was one of the leaders on a Rutgers team that won its fourth straight bowl game. He is considered a stellar young man, and people rave about his maturity.
His twin brother, Jason, was drafted last year by the Tennessee Titans, for whom he currently plays.
The fanfare isn’t there, but McCourty will challenge for a starting spot this upcoming season, and he will be a player Patriots fans grow to appreciate.