Star safety Devin McCourty wears the No. 32 jersey, so he is the subject of discussion today as we mark 32 days until the New England Patriots open the 2016 season.
Size: 5-foot-10, 195 pounds
NFL experience: Six seasons
2015 stats: 64 tackles, sack, five passes defended, interception
Selected by the Patriots in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, McCourty has proven to be one of the few examples of excellent defensive back drafting on the part of Bill Belichick. Luckily, Belichick made a midnight call to McCourty in the 2015 offseason, offering him a five-year, $47.5 million deal before the Jacksonville Jaguars plucked the Rutgers product out of New England.
Drafted as a cornerback, McCourty made the Pro Bowl as a rookie after intercepting seven passes. But in the following season, quarterbacks smartened up when throwing McCourty’s direction, and No. 1 wide receivers figured out how to get separation from him. After the Pats acquired Aqib Talib, McCourty was permanently moved to free safety, a position which suits him far better.
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At free safety, McCourty essentially roams the back end for the Patriots. His exceptional range allows the Pats to plug No. 2 corner Logan Ryan on a team’s No. 1 wideout, with McCourty providing a security blanket over the top for his fellow Rutgers alum. In addition, McCourty is skilled at coming up and making an impact on run defense. His tackling capability is sound and dependable, as is his coverage. The one knock on McCourty’s coverage recently, however, is that he has often been a split second late moving laterally to defend a pass.
Off the field, McCourty is one of the NFL’s good guys. He was the Patriots’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2015 for his work fighting sickle cell. In the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombings, D-Mac donated $100 for every tackle and $200 for every interception he recorded in the 2013 season. A Patriot’s Patriot, McCourty is one of the most vital players on the Patriots’ roster entering 2016.
Be sure to stop by Musket Fire tomorrow as we mark 31 days until the Patriots open 2016 by profiling the owner of the No. 31 jersey, undrafted rookie corner Jonathan Jones.