McCourty has assets Vikings desire

The Vikings have certain qualities they desire for their cornerbacks in the Tampa-2 defensive scheme, and Rutgers CB Devin McCourty seems to fill out the checklist. That's probably why is often talked about when it comes to Vikings draft targets, and McCourty talked about those assets in a recent interview with

In the cat-and-mouse game that is NFL subterfuge before the draft, one thing is certain: Not everyone the Vikings are interested in as draft targets will be making a predraft visit to Winter Park this week or working out in private for scouts and coaches.

The Vikings, like every other NFL team, like to hide their intentions as best as possible and therefore a player that never visits is sometimes the one most coveted. Cornerback Devin McCourty isn't expected to be among the predraft visitors to Minnesota this week, but he has often been mentioned as a player of interest for the Vikings, and he knows all too well to expect the unexpected when it comes to the draft. He has his twin brother Jason to thank for that lesson.

"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," Devin McCourty said in a recent interview with

Jason was drafted in the sixth round by the Titans last year, but Devin is expected to be selected in the second half of the first round or early in the second round. The Vikings have the 30th pick, and everything about McCourty screams that he is the Vikings' type of cornerback. About half of his time in the Rugters defense was spent working in a Cover-2 defensive system like the Vikings implement. It calls for strong run support from the cornerback position and McCourty has no problem with that aspect of his game.

"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," he said. "I spoke to a few coaches where they were saying, it's a very key part. 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."

McCourty has proved he knows how to do that. Last year, he had 80 tackles to go along with a10 passes defensed and one interception in 13 starts.

"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 draft analyst Chris Steuber.

McCourty was a starter during his last three years at Rutgers and was a key cog in the Big East's top-ranked defense. For his career, he had six interceptions. While Steuber acknowledges that quarterbacks may have shied away from throwing the ball in McCourty's direction too often in the latter stages of his collegiate career, he said the lack of interceptions shows a lapse in concentration at times.

At this point, however, McCourty is very focused on the draft and excited to contribute in the NFL.

"I'm not going to lie, it's pretty exciting thinking about getting drafted and playing in the National Football League," he said.

He built the résumé to make it happen. He was named team MVP, defensive MVP, special teams MVP and honorable-mention All-America during a productive senior season. But he offers more than just his defensive prowess.

As a special teams player, he blocked seven kicks during his career and contributed on several units, including averaging 25.1 yards on 14 kickoff returns. It's an area that NFL teams have been inquiring about.

"When I told them I played on all four (special) teams, they said, ‘No, we mean what teams did you play on this year?' I said all four special teams," he said. "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."

For a guy that is accomplished in both returning kicks and blocking them, which does he like better?

"Blocking a kick. I feel like returning — it's not easy, but you see a lot of real good returners and can take it the distance, but not guys that can block kicks," he said.

So McCourty has the physical nature that the Vikings like in their cornerbacks and offers all kinds of abilities on special teams. Is there anything else that Brad Childress lobbies for from his cornerbacks? Oh yeah, durability.

While Antoine Winfield missed six games and was limited in several more because of a fractured foot, and Cedric Griffin tore his ACL in the NFC Championship game, McCourty has a track record of consistently being available.

At Rutgers, the 5-foot-11, 193-pounder never missed a game, playing in 52 consecutive and starting 39 – all 13 in each of his final three seasons.

"McCourty plays much bigger and more physical than his size, and the scary thought is that he could add more bulk to his frame," Steuber writes in his analysis of McCourty. "His work ethic is one of his best qualities, and his work in the weight room really shows as he features a chiseled physique."

With physicality on defense, durability, special-teams prowess and a strong work ethic, McCourty is certainly a corner to watch as the Vikings' first-round pick approaches.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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