The New England Patriots made former Rutgers CB Devin McCourty their first round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. This will be a controversial pick because we left Miami's new DE Jared Odrick and Indianapolis' new DE Jerry Hughes on the board. Also, players such as Sergio Kindle and Ricky Sapp remained on the board.
Earlier, I had this to say about McCourty:
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.
While I called McCourty a great 2nd round pick, the fact that teams started to make a run at cornerbacks in the first round (with Joe Haden and Kareem Jackson already off the board, and with Kyle Wilson and Patrick Robinson quickly following McCourty) meant that the Patriots needed to make the aggressive move and get their player early.
Pre-draft measureables Ht Wt Arm length Hand size 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP 5′10 +5⁄8″ 193 lb 32 in. 9 in. 4.38 1.53 2.50 4.07 6.70 36 in. 10′6″ 16 rep
He has fantastic size and speed and has the college experience to succeed in the NFL. I undervalued McCourty's value in the draft because I believed that getting a #2 or #3 CB wasn't as important as getting a #1 or #2 OLB or a #1 or #2 DE.
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The fact that McCourty has been on the field since his freshman year definitely added to why the Patriots selected him so early. He has the experience to step immediately into the NFL level.
2006: 3 PDs, 2 INTs
2007: 7 PDs, 2 INTs
2008: 7 PDs, 1 INT
2009: 10 PDs, 1 INT
Keep in mind that teams stopped throwing in his direction. He has lockdown ability at corner.
Read & React: Reads receiver's body language to see if his man is the primary target.
Man Coverage: Can press or play off effectively
Zone Coverage: Should make a very good zone corner in the NFL.
Closing/Recovery: Baits quarterbacks into throwing in his direction, closing very well when the ball is in front of him.
Run Support: Very willing (and able) to support the run.
Tackling: Wiry strong and solid in his tackling technique.
Intangibles: Reliable veteran who loves to play the game. Took a leadership role in 2009 with Jason McCourty and safety Courtney Greene in the NFL. Very good student who made multiple Big East All-Academic teams.
NFL Comparison: Ronde Barber, Buccaneers
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Started 39 games in college, played in 52
Blocked 7 Kicks
Great Special Teams players
In his last 39 games, the opposition managed to complete just 35.20 percent of the passes thrown into his area (88-of-250) for 684 yards and just two scores, as they averaged 7.77 yards per pass completion and 2.75 yards per pass attempt
During that span, McCourty defended 33 passes (six thefts, 27 deflections) and rerouted his main pass coverage assignments, preventing them from getting to 148 other throws
His total of 94 third-down stops (78 vs. the pass, 16 vs. the run) are the most of any active defensive back in college football and the most of any active Big East player
Also registered 35 fourth-down stops during his time with the Scarlet Knights
My thoughts on the selection? Phenomenal. Players like Sergio Kindle and Ricky Sapp remained on the board to add to the defensive side of the ball. Players like Damian Williams and Golden Tate remain open in the second. Although Tyson Alualu was taken extremely early, I still believe that the Patriots can find a great value DE in the second round.
Players the Patriots missed:
Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State WR - Not the Patriots type of player and I don't believe the Patriots think that WR is such a big need that it would require a first round pick to address.
Jared Odrick, Penn State DE/DT - Odrick can eat space and stop the run coming right towards him. He doesn't have the lateral ability to stop the run to his sides and he doesn't have the speed to make plays in the backfield. He uses his strength to get into the backfield, but in a league where everyone is strong, he lacks any pass rushing move to get into the backfield. He has gotten by with his size and his strength. That might not work at the next level. The Patriots seemed to lack confidence in his ability to translate his college skill to the professional level.
Kyle Wilson, Boise State CB - He isn't as good as McCourty against the run and McCourty is a better special teams player. McCourty is much more polished and has better ability to break up plays. McCourty made MANY more plays over his college career, from rerouting receivers to stopping plays on third down.
Jerry Hughes, TCU DE/OLB - I love Hughes as a pass rusher, but in reality he fits the 4-3 DE spot much better than the 3-4 OLB slot. He can't stuff the run, nor is it known if he can drop into coverage. He is good at one thing- reaching the QB. There's no position in the 3-4 where a player can be so single-utility focused.
Players to look at in the 2nd:
Sergio Kindle, Texas OLB
Ricky Sapp, Clemson OLB
Eric Norwood, USCarolina OLB
Koa Misi, Utah OLB
Damian Williams, USC WR
Golden Tate, Notre Dame WR
Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech RB
Montario Hardesty, Tennessee RB
Brandon Spikes, Florida ILB
Terrence Cody, Alabama NT
Lamarr Houston, Texas DT/DE
Torrell Troup, UCF DE/DT (checked out by Belichick personally)
Charles Brown, USC OT
Rodger Saffold, Indiana OT
There are players of tremendous skill still available. While I understand that a lot of fans wanted Jared Odrick and that I, myself, have been pushing Jerry Hughes. Hughes fits the 4-3 much better due to his lack of run stopping ability. Odrick doesn't appear to be a Patriot type player, beyond his size. I don't think the Patriots placed a first round need on the DE position, due to the recent draft picks of Ron Brace, Myron Pryor and Darryl Richard. It's not the Patriots MO to grab an OLB so early, but with so many still remaining it makes sense to address a position of need in this pass crazy league.
I approve of this McCourty pick. He'll be an immediate contributor on special teams (just like Pat Chung was this past year), could fight for the nickel CB position and perhaps, as the season goes on, play the #2 slot ahead of Darius Butler. For McCourty, I think the sky is the limit. He has done extremely well at the college level and he has the athleticism to take his game to new heights.