With the Draft fast approaching, it's time to start looking at some potential players for the Patriots. I'm going to put profiles of 2 players a day- one offense, one defensive- and gain a better understanding of the players in the draft.
With the recent additions of elite wide receivers in the AFC East, the Patriots might look to the draft to find a corner of the future to play alongside Butler and Bodden. Rutgers' Devin McCourty is a great cornerback who can moonlight as a fantastic return man, a la Ellis Hobbes. He's an intelligent corner, who knows when he should take risk- and maybe even more importantly, when not to take risks. He'll knock the ball away if he doesn't have a chance at a pick, rather than taking a chance and maybe missing. He may get into trouble when receivers get by him, but he has the athleticism to recover. Most likely selected at the end of the first, or the beginning of the second, McCourty is ranked as either the third or fourth best CB in the draft, flip flopping with Alabama's Kareem Jackson, but normally gains the edge due to his special teams potential. McCourty is smart and has won academic awards while at Rutgers. Is he a future Patriot?
His measurements and some quotes after the jump.WalterFootball.com Scouting
Height: 5-11. Weight: 193.
Projected 40 Time: 4.50.
Combine 40 Time: 4.34.
03/19/2010 - TOP RATED NFL DRAFT SCOUT CORNERBACKS: Devin McCourty, Rutgers, 5-11, 193, 1-2: Devin ??? an identical twin to Jason McCourty, a sixth-round pick by the Tennessee Titans last year ??? has the athletic ability to be an excellent cornerback but needs to focus on receivers as acutely as he did his book work in college. McCourty, winner of several academic honors, had a 40-yard time of 4.41 at the combine, but that speed wasn't obvious in many game situations. He was impressive on passes in front of him, but too often he allowed receivers to get deep. Last season he had 80 tackles, 10 pass breakups and an interception in 13 starts. He also was an outstanding special-teams player, blocking three kicks (he has seven in his career) and returning a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange, NFLDraftScout.com/CBS Sports/USA TODAY
02/24/2010 - 2010 NFL DRAFT SCOUT PRE-COMBINE TOP 64: 54. Devin McCourty ??? CB, Rutgers, 5-11, 186, 2: The winner of several academic honors, McCourty will need to work hard to compensate for a lack of elite speed in the NFL. In college, he was very impressive on passes in front of him but too often allowed receivers to get deep. He had 80 tackles, 10 pass breakups and an interception last season. He also blocked three kicks and returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. - Frank Cooney, USA TODAY/NFL Draft Scout
McCourty is an average sized cornerback with good athleticism. He runs well but doesn’t have premier speed out on and island. McCourty is a tough, competitive player that understands angles and route progressions. He is an active secondary defender that gets his hands on lots of balls but doesn’t always make the interception. McCourty has great hips, agility and balance to turn and stay in the receiver’s hip pocket. He does get overpowered at times versus larger receivers in block protection and on jump ball situations but he appears to know his limitations and is a defender. McCourty is a good football player that will likely contribute quickly at nickel back and special teams (returns as well as coverage units) in his rookie season.
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Verdict: McCourty is a perfect Patriot player- he's intelligent, he's versatile, he's competitive and he's athletic. He won't be able to manhandle some of the bigger corners in the league, but he has the intelligence to swat the balls away. There are very few receivers in the league with burner capability, but McCourty may have a little Wilhite potential (as in he may allow players to get big plays behind him). However, I see McCourty as a more useful player than Wilhite, maybe even a combination of both Wilhite and Wheatley. McCourty has a higher ceiling and seems more apt to make better decisions on the ball than Wilhite. If McCourty drops to 44, I can definitely see us grabbing him. The Patriots brass have looked at him too- maybe they agree with me.