Every so often in professional sports, a special athlete comes along that encompasses every single attribute a team could possibly ask for. In this case, former Rutgers University cornerback Devin McCourty has been a dream come true for the New England Patriots.
Last year, the Patriots selected him with the 27th overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft. The Patriots saw a lot of upside in Devin and decided he’d be a good fit for their young, revamped defense and storied franchise. When talking about being drafted, Devin says, “It’s a remarkable feeling, just to kind of see a team wanted you and they selected you in the NFL draft. You see everything you always wished for come true in one night.”
When asked about getting an opportunity to play as a rookie last season, he said, “Coming into the season, I didn’t know what to expect. We had a veteran corner who got hurt and he was placed on IR. Our corners coach came in and told me I would have to step up and maybe play sooner than I thought and sooner then everyone expected. One thing I was excited about is I knew that we had guys that were winners.”
McCourty instantly stepped into the starting line-up for the Pats and recorded 7 interceptions. Only 7-time Pro Bowler Ed Reed had more picks with 8. Devin helped the Patriots’ defense lead the league in interceptions with 25 and he played an integral role in leading the Patriots to a 14-2 regular season record.
He was selected to the Pro Bowl, where he had the AFC’s lone interception in the game. Devin speaks highly of guys like Peyton Manning and Ray Lewis, who he was teammates with in Honolulu. He grew up watching those guys win Super Bowls, so to be on the same field and same team as them was a special memory.
When it comes to Devin McCourty, it’s clear he is focused on being the best he can be. He’s not just an amazing player on the field but also carries himself well off the field. His competitive mindset, work ethic, freak athleticism, instincts and sheer ability all complement his capability to fit into a team and adapt to all situations. Off the field, Devin is a laid back, family-oriented guy. This is fitting, since his twin brother Jason also plays cornerback in the NFL for the Tennessee Titans. It’s evident by seeing Devin’s cleats that the brothers are extremely close: last year, Devin wrote his number and his brother’s number on his cleats for good luck.
There’s no doubt the Patriots hit a home run with their first round pick from last season. Devin came into the organization and put in the required time, effort and hard work, meshing well with his teammates and performing at the highest level. I look for Devin to continue to work hard and help the Patriots build a young defense to get back to the Super Bowl.
To keep up with Devin and Jason McCourty, check them out on Twitter and Facebook.
Earlier in the season, we took a look at some of the success stories that came from those athletes that attended the NFL Combine in our mid-season Rookie Watch. One of the young stars that continues to rise above the rest is defensive back Devin McCourty of the New England Patriots.
When making the jump from college football to the NFL, it can take some players years to make an impact; often times, the better the team you play for, the more difficult standing out can be for a rookie. With that said, the fact that Devin McCourty signed with the Patriots – the team with this year’s best regular season record – meant that his performance had to be far and above what any would typically expect from a first-year player. Devin surely didn’t let the fact that he’s a rookie slow him down however. This season, McCourtey has resembled a seasoned veteran, rather than a first-year player.
McCourty was one of only four rookies to be named to the 2011 NFL Pro Bowl last week and, although he stood out amongst other rookies early in the season, Devin seemed to only get better as the season went on. The 23-year-old from Nyack, New York finished the regular season with 7 interceptions and 82 tackles, 69 of which came without any help. McCourty registered his first career sack in a big game in Week 15 against the Green Bay Packers, where he added 10 tackles and was easily the difference in the Patriots‘ narrow 31-27 victory. Devin finished the regular season off by grabbing his 7th interception against Miami on Sunday.
As we look on to the NFL postseason, Devin McCourty and the Patriots, with a 14-2 regular season record and home field advantage throughout the AFC, are the team to beat. With McCourty already selected to the Pro Bowl, his bright future is closer than many expected. With any luck, he’ll find himself at the top of the list of Rookie of the Year candidates and, with the help of his teammates, could be on the way to grabbing his first Super Bowl ring as well.
Check out the interviews of Devin McCourty from the NFL Combine below.
As the NFL Season continues to roll on a few of the young players from the NFL Combine are carving out a path to stardom in their first year in the NFL. This week we’ll take a look at three players making an impact this season.
First up is Devin McCourty of the New England Patriots. McCourty showed up big for one of the most anticipated matchups to hit Sunday Night Football this season. Devin McCourty came up with a career high 11 tackles against the Pittsburgh Steelers, 9 of them came unassisted. The win helped keep the Patriots tied with the Falcons and Jets for the best record in the league. McCourty’s season total for tackles sits at 48. Devin also has 2 picks this season and has positioned himself as one of the top defensive rookies this season.
On the offensive side of the ball, LeGarrette Blount of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Blount has been a huge impact in the turnaround for the Bucs from last season’s disappointing 3-13 finish. Blount has amassed 359 yards and 4 touchdowns thus far, helping Tampa Bay to a 6-3 record. Blount’s 4.8 yards per carry average has seen his carries increase over the season and recently led the Bucs passed the Cardinals with 122 yards and 2 touchdowns, and again passed the Panthers with 91 yards and a touchdown run.
With special teams being an often overlooked part of the game, our last featured rookie may have slid under the radar. Unless of course you caught him on HBO’s Hard Knocks. John Conner may not have the stat sheet filled up like our first two rookies but we can almost guarantee the rest of the league is aware of John Conner. Conner’s been putting some of the hardest hits on the opposition this season. The Terminator has found himself at the center of the New York Jets special teams efforts.
Check out each player’s Eastbay Exclusive video from the NFL Combine below.
Back in late February/early March Eastbay set up shop at the 2010 NFL Combine to chat with the upcoming draft prospects. It was pretty cool to hear about some of the cats that bought from Eastbay back in the day as well as guys that continue to buy at Eastbay.
Among the nearly 60 guys that we interviewed, 3 of them were drafted in the first round of last night’s 2010 NFL Draft.
Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant was taken by the Cowboys with the 24th overall pick. Dez should feel right at home in Dallas as he is originally from Texas. Bryant was the second WR taken behind Demaryius Thomas but he should be able to step in and make an instant impact for the Boys. After a mediocre year out of #1 WR Roy Williams, Tony Romo gets the gift of a dangerous weapon in Bryant.
Three picks later with the 27th pick, the New England Patriots took CB Devin McCourty. McCourty who attended Rutgers and whose hometown is Nanuet, NY will be sticking around on the east coast after being taken by the Pats.
With the second to last pick of the first round the Colts selected Defensive End Jerry Hughes from TCU. Hughes was a part of the Horned Frogs’ 12-0 run last year. He won the Ted Hendricks Award in 2009 which rewarded his on-field performance, leadership abilities and his contributions to his school and community. Hughes also won the Lott Trophy named in honor of College Hall of Famer and 4-time Super Bowl Champion Ronnie Lott. The Lott Trophy is a reward given to a defensive player who shows great character and performs well on the field. Jerry will be a great addition to the Colts who look to make a return trip to the Super Bowl in 2010.