The New England Patriots leader among the defensive backs isn’t the oldest player, because that would be offseason signing Adrian Wilson, who was indeed a leader for many seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. As Wilson said himself earlier in training camp, Devin McCourty is the leader of the New England Patriots secondary, and his “Do your job” intangibles common with Bill Belichick’s favorite Rutgers players aren’t even close to being his best asset. McCourty, aside from a rough 2011 year in which he didn’t exactly receive much safety help either, has been a very good cornerback during his career, but he turned “very good” into “All-Pro” as a safety last season with his run defense (that translated perfectly from CB to FS), ball skills, instincts, speed, and coverage skills.
New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty speaks with the media at the teams practice fields at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
McCourty received some major praise from Bill Belichick today during a press conference, “Yeah, Devin has had a good spring. He’s one of our best-prepared players, both physically and mentally. He has a very good understanding of the overall defense and has gotten more experience at the safety position. He’s also worked some at corner. He’s a great team player. He’s been a captain since his second year in the league, so wherever we need him, I know he’s prepared to play and do the best he can for the team. That’s one of the things we all love about Devin: He’s a great team player. He’s a good player, does a lot of different things – in the kicking game, defense, safety, corner, nickel, whatever it happens to be. He’s very dependable, he’s very consistent, and he works hard, puts the team first. There’s not much to not like about him; it’s pretty much all good.”
Whenever Belichick (or any coach, for that matter) talks about a player so highly for this long, then it means that the player truly holds a special place on the team. That’s definitely true for Devin McCourty, who remains under-appreciated by a select few Patriots fans who have yet to truly examine McCourty’s impressive body of work. He held quarterbacks to just a 10.2 QB Rating last season, per the Pro Football Focus, at free safety, and that is no short feat. McCourty is in line for another big year on the Pats defense, and he is easily one of the best players that this defense has to offer (Jerod Mayo, McCourty, and Vince Wilfork are the “Big Three”).