Since I’m now located on the East Coast, I’ve been following East Coast teams much more closely than I have before.
Of course, you’d have had to be blind to miss Rutgers recent rise to prominence (hence the rumors they are the target of a pilfering attempt by the Big Ten) no matter where you lived. But there’s a lot more to the conference than I thought before I returned back to NY.
This year, 18 players from the Big East Conference were drafted and a slew of others were picked up as street free agents.
Over the next week we’re going to take a look at some of them, where they went and what their landing spot might mean for their success in the league.
In our second edition, we look at another former Scarlet Knight – cornerback Devin McCourty.
Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers – Drafted by the New England Patriots at 1-27
It seems like this selection confused people as many thought the more pressing defensive need was pass rush and either a defensive lineman or a linebacker. But the secondary is a problem as well and with teams like the Vikings and Packers coming to town this year and the Colts always a threat in the playoffs, the Patriots know they need to secure the secondary.
McCourty was a pretty good corner at Rutgers although he did allow a lot of passes. A tough, versatile player with return skills, McCourty fits the Belichick mold of solid, muti-functional athletes who can fill several roles. It looks as though he will start out as a nickel back and more than likely get some special teams work, probably on coverage as well as returning kicks but don’t be surprised if in a few years he’s moved to corner where his press skills will come to fruition. You could see him a lot this year in fact, as the Pats play nickel defense nearly half the time.
At 5′10″, 193lbs, McCourty isn’t the prototypical sized defensive back, but he’s incredibly tough and competitive and that may make up for some size issues. The physical nature of his game will also secure him a frequent spot on coverage units and you have to know Coach Belichick will try to recreate some of the seven blocked kicks McCourty produced for the Scarlet Knights.
The Patriots not only struggled against the likes of Drew Brees and Peyton Manning but were torched by Chad Henne (335 yards, 2 TDs), Kyle Orton (330 yards, 2 TDs) and Matt Schaub (303 yards, 2 TDs).
McCourty should be able to step in and help reverse course for New England, and very quickly at that.