Patriots: 5 best rookie seasons in recent Pats history

Dont'a Hightower and Devin McCourty. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Dont'a Hightower and Devin McCourty. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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Devin McCourty
Devin McCourty. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

2. Devin McCourty, 2010

The next two picks are a bit of a throwback. No one could have predicted that the 27th pick in the 2010 draft, a physical cornerback from Rutgers, would have been a Pro Bowl selection by the end of the season. And yet, Devin McCourty proved them all wrong.

One year after his twin brother, fellow defensive back Jason McCourty, entered the NFL, Devin did so with aplomb. He immediately carved out a role as a starting cornerback and arguably enjoyed the best freshman year for a cornerback in Patriots’ history. Where others might falter from injury or inexperience, McCourty started every game and developed as a fast study, recording seven interceptions (second only to Hall of Famer Mike Haynes’ eight) and two forced fumbles that year. Keep in mind, these interceptions were not your normal Sunday league plays – he intercepted the passes of Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, and a few other historic greats. He also picked up 69 tackles and 13 assists, impressive stats for any corner, much less a rookie.

McCourty still remembers his freshman season fondly and had his share of “rookie moments.” He told the The Star-Ledger:

"“Lining up against Randy (Moss), I want to say probably the first five or six times Randy went deep he caught all six of them. So it was ‘all right, am I really going to be good in this league? I think Randy Moss is great, but I’ve got to be able to stop him at least once if I’m going to play in the league.’"

One year later, McCourty had more than proven he could “play” in the league with the tactical awareness to intercept plays and the physical prowess to contain all-star wide receivers. His rookie season is one Patriots draft picks can only dream of.