McCourty Is Surprise Pick

The Patriots could have selected a top WR, or OLB, Even a DL with their first pick in the 2010 Draft. Instead, they traded down (twice) and picked a player at an area of strength.

Five picks and two trades after we all thought they'd make their first selection of the 2010 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots finally got on the board at No. 27 with -- surprise, surprise! -- a defender, though not the one many thought they'd snag.

Various mock drafts weighed in during the days leading up to the draft, with some experts guessing the Patriots would go with Texas defensive lineman Sergio Kindle, or perhaps his teammate, safety Earl Thomas -- either way, all eyes pointed to a defensive upgrade.

In the end, Bill Belichick traded out of the 22nd pick, acquired the No. 24th pick in exchange, and then dealt that selection, too, in order to scoop up Rutgers defensive back Devin McCourty with the 27th overall pick.

McCourty certainly fills a need on defense. The Patriots still haven't replaced Asante Samuel -- entering his third season with Philadelphia -- and they spent last year filling in the blanks on the opposite side, too, after trading away Ellis Hobbs.

According to scouting reports, McCourty (5-feet-10, 196 pounds) appears to be much faster than fundamentally sound, which is strange sine Belichick often preaches the virtues of solid ball skills -- a trait McCourty apparently lacks.

One thing he has going for him is his 4.42 time in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine, but he's rather thin and lacks the bulk (at least right now) to bang heads with stronger, taller receivers. As always, it's anyone's guess where he'll fit. Perhaps the Patriots went with a defensive back not only to address a need but to keep up with the proverbial "arms race" in the AFC East as well.

The Jets have asserted themselves as the best defensive team in the division thanks to the acquisition of cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who teams with Darrelle Revis for a formidable 1-2 punch. Once considered the most dangerous defense in the league, let alone the division, the Patriots have been spotty as they've tried to infuse more youth and speed.

With McCourty, they'll be faster and younger, but will they be better? This all depends on where he fits. Clearly, the Patriots didn't see much value at No. 22 or 24, nor did they think McCourty would be off the board if they traded down. In addition to adding another young defender, they also acquired a fourth-round pick from Denver and moved up from No. 119 to 90 in the second trade with Dallas.

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