Devin McCourty beat twin brother Jason into the world by 27 minutes.
And because of a brilliant all-around package of cover skills, special teams acumen and intelligence, Devin is going to beat Jason into the NFL by several rounds.
Last year, the Tennessee Titans selected Jason McCourty in the sixth round of the NFL draft. In three weeks, there's a pretty good chance that one of the cornerback-hungry teams selecting in the bottom half of the first round - the Steelers, Falcons, Texans, Packers, Eagles, Ravens, Cardinals, Cowboys and Chargers - could grab Devin McCourty on the opening night of the three-day draft.
"I'm not going to lie, it's pretty exciting thinking about getting drafted and playing in the National Football League," Devin told Packer Report.
|Devin McCourty at the 2010 Senior Bowl.|
( Photo/ Shana Siler.)
After starring together at St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, N.J., they enrolled together at Rutgers, where Jason played as a true freshman while Devin redshirted. Thus, with Jason starting three games as a rookie with the Titans, last year was the first time the McCourtys weren't on the same team.
Except for one-on-one games of basketball.
"We just played for hours, not really even keeping score," Devin recalled. "We'd just keep going at it and going at it until it got dark outside and you had to go inside. Football, a lot of times we were on the same team, so we didn't really get to go at it like that, but when we did, we competed against each other but it was more for fun than actual competition."
The first season at Rutgers was a strange one for Devin. Jason was more physically mature and played immediately, with Devin only watching as the Scarlet Knights reached a bowl game. In retrospect, that extra year was important in Devin's development, he said, but it was difficult at the time.
"My mom, she's been my backbone, especially my redshirt year, when it was tough watching my brother play," Devin said. "She was the first one that just told me, 'Just keep working hard, keep going.' She's kind of been the story of both of our success."
While both were three-year starters who stand 5-foot-11, Devin is considered the better pro prospect because of his physical style.
"I truly believe when it's all said and done, he will emerge as the best cornerback in this year's draft and is a future Pro Bowler," said Scout.com draft analyst Chris Steuber.
A superb all-around cornerback who's experienced in zone and man concepts, Devin has the height and speed to match up with receivers and the size and desire to mix it up in the run game. He picked off one pass as a senior - giving him six for his career - and was just one off the team lead in tackles.
"I pride myself in not being scared to come up and make the tackle, because I feel like that's a part of the game," said Devin, who was voted Rutgers' team MVP, defensive MVP and special teams MVP last season. "I spoke to a few coaches where they were saying, it's a very key part of the game. You can't have a corner that's a liability out there. If a run comes out there or a guy catches a pass, you need guys that can make tackles."
As a major added bonus, Devin is a demon on special teams. He blocked three kicks as a senior to run his career total to seven, and he returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.
"Blocking a kick," he said when asked which was more fun, blocking a kick or running back a kick for a touchdown. "I feel like returning - it's not easy, but you see a lot of real good returners that can take it the distance but not guys that can block kicks."
|"I play on all four special teams...teams keep telling me that's added value."|
- Devin McCourty
Devin blew away one team during formal interviews at the Scouting Combine. Asked if he would mind playing special teams for a year or two while, presumably, breaking into the starting lineup at cornerback, Devin said he hoped to play special teams for his entire career.
"When I told them I played on all four (special) teams (units), they said, 'No, we mean what teams did you play on this year,'" Devin recalled. "I said all four special teams. Through this whole process, teams keep telling me that's added value to what I can do as a player. In the NFL, they need players that are able to do more than just one thing."
And if all of this isn't good enough, Devin - like Jason - was a semifinalist for the Draddy Award, which is the academic version of the Heisman Trophy. The sociology major finished with a 3.31 grade point average.
"My mom made sure that we did well in school before we were able to go out there and play any sport," Devin said. "So, it's always been important to me. I don't think I'm exceptionally smart or anything. You've just got to put some effort and time into your studies and you'll get good results."
Devin, who grew up watching Deion Sanders and Darrell Green, is leaning on his brother for advice in the weeks leading up to the draft. One thing he's learned is that this time of year is one big poker game.
"No matter what happens with this whole process, I know I can just call him and get a quick answer because he's already been through it," Devin said. "One thing that he told me is that all through the process, he never talked to Tennessee and they ended up drafting him. So, don't worry about who's talking to you."
Patriots Insider take: McCourty has already met with the Patriots who could find themselves in the market to Draft a defensive back for the second year in a row. Last season New England selected Connecticut product Darius Butler in the second round. Butler joined the team just a year after the Patriots selected Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite in the 2008 Draft. Neither Wilhite nor Wheatley have managed to secure a spot on the roster despite their draft position (2nd and 4th round respectively).
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Reports subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.
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