Devin McCourty’s season has been a success primarily due to his team already locking up a first round bye in the AFC playoffs. Team success is always paramount with the McCourtys, especially for Devin as the leader of the Patriots defensive backfield. Individually his election to the Pro Bowl is warranted as he has started every game recording 70 tackles, a fumble recovery, an interception, 7 passes defended, and as per ESPN, one “stuff”. His interception return was a key play in the Monday Night Football win over Baltimore. As a team, New England is in the top 10 in total yardage defense, forced fumbles, least yards per play, least number of first downs allowed, lowest 3rd down % allowed, and most importantly leading in the league in scoring defense.
Devin joined the NFL’s Patriots as a first round pick in 2010, the year after his twin brother Jason was selected in the 6th round by the Tennessee Titans. He and Anthony Davis were the first Rutgers players ever selected in the first round of the NFL draft. As a rookie he burst on the scene for his first Pro Bowl selection with 7 interceptions and 17 passes defended. Over his first three seasons he recorded over 80 tackles each season with 14 total interceptions and a momentum changing kickoff return touchdown against guess who, the division rival New York Jets. He was moved to safety to meet a team’s needs that worked out rather quickly. In his career he has registered 522 tackles, 2 sacks, 8 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 19 interceptions, and 70 passes defended.
The Patriots have secured their 13th division title in the last 14 years. McCourty has been a key building block in the last few years, including the position change mentioned above. The selfless attitude instilled in him at home as well as under former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano proved to the NFL’s best coach and it’s most recent dynasty that he could be a key piece to their puzzle. His success along with one year of Nate Jones influenced the Patriots to subsequently draft Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon higher than most scouts expected. His subsequent mentoring has allowed the Patriots secondary long one of their weak points to become a team strength.
He is one of only 6 Pats DBs in team history to have been named to the Pro Bowl twice. He has also been named second team All-Pro twice. He is tied for 12th in team history in interceptions, 2nd in passes defended, 9th in forced fumbles, and 11th in tackles since they became an official statistic. Of course he was a member of the Super Bowl XLIX champions.
Devin’s college career began as a redshirt out of St. Joseph’s (Montvale) High School. His brother Jason actually played as a true freshman while Devin remained with the scout team, before becoming a part-time starter as a redshirt freshman. He ended it with 238 tackles and 6 interceptions (2 for touchdowns), 149 tackles in Big East play alone ranks 21st all-time. He started for three years at Rutgers, twice being named an all-conference academic selection, and being named first team all Big-East for his accomplishments on the field as a senior.
The accolades continue for McCourty who has a ways to go to reach Deron Cherry status, who was named to the NFL’s 1980s all decade team and thrice a first team All-Pro. McCourty is still among the greatest Rutgers players to have ever played in the NFL, one of only four to make the Pro Bowl. He ranks 5th in number of seasons as his team’s primary starter (7), is the only former Scarlet Knight to have a kick return touchdown, 6th in games started, 4th in interceptions, 2nd in passes defended, tied for first in forced fumbles, and in a battle with his brother for 4th in tackles since they were a recorded stat. In terms of seasons played, he has to catch Jay Bellamy and Deron Cherry as a defensive back, but definitely has a chance to one day top that list.
Congrats again to Devin McCourty!