The curious case of Devin McCourty

The curious case of Devin McCourty
February 23, 2012, 8:13 pm
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While perusing NFL Draft prospect videos of this year's cornerback crop, I stumbled upon Devin McCourty's 2010 selection analysis. The video began with commissioner Roger Goodell announcing New England's pick at 27 overall.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock broke it down:

"He may be the best special teams player in the entire draft. He's a return guy that's a gunner and a jammer. He's sudden, quick, and physical. He'll compete for some time in your nickel and dime coverage.

"You know Bill Belichick, they're always cognizant and prioritize their special teams. This guy had seven career blocks. He returned punts and kicks for touchdowns"

Did he have the right McCourty?

Devin became an every down cornerback in New England. His seven interceptions, 13 passes defensed, and 82 tackles earned him a Pro Bowl berth. His second NFL season was a letdown: a separated shoulder; zero interceptions until the Patriots final two regular season games; the second-most surrendered yardage in the league.

But for all the numbers, good and bad, one category stands out: special teams. In two seasons McCourty has a single kick return to his credit (24 yards). McCourty averaged 25.43 yards per kickoff return (one he took 98 yards for a touchdown) his senior year at Rutgers.

True, it's a dangerous job for 2010's best Patriots corner. But the team ranked No 29 in kick return average (21.4 yards) last season.

And what about the gunner skill? McCourty had 23 tackles for the punt coverage unit and 27 for the Scarlet Knights kickoff coverage squad. As Mayock noted, he blocked six punts and one field goal. Maybe Week 10's shoulder injury limited his involvement. Maybe not.

Anyone remember the special teams work of the 2010 Draft's "best" asset? Enough to say he took the field at times. When and what he did, however -- no.

The question is why.