Rutgers coach Greg Schiano joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the Patriots’ selection of his player, Devin McCourty, in the first round of Thursday night’s draft. Patriots fans may be underwhelmed by McCourty, but Schiano said the team is getting a special player — and not just a special teams player.
“I really, really enjoyed coaching Devin,” Schiano said. “He gets it. It’s not only playing corner and all the things he does there. He can cover, he can play press, he can tackle, it’s all the things he does as a special teams player, too. He’s a special guy, loves the game of football. I think he’s going from a program where we ask a lot of him into a franchise where they do the same. I think people are going to be very happy with Devin when they find out just what kind player he is and what kind of person he is.”
Added Schiano: “All I know is he will come in there and he will best his rear end to learn their system, and he will be in great shape.”
The similarity in philosophies with the Patriots and Rutgers should be of benefit to McCourty. Said Schiano: ”I really am happy for Devin. He’s going to a franchise that has a lot of similar core values that we had here. I can promise you once he learns their system and gets ingrained in what they’re doing, he’s going to have a real good career, a great career in the National Football League.”
Schiano said McCourty is not the type of player who will cause problems for the Patriots, on or off the field. “He’s a great kid,” Schiano said. “I think people are going to be very pleased with him. Give him a chance to learn the system and get that stuff down. You never know, right. God-willing, though, 4-5 years from now, people are going to say, ‘Wow, what a pick that was.’ That’s how I feel about the kid. I think he’s something special.”
Schiano said he heard ESPN analyst Mel Kiper’s concerns about McCourty and said: “I wouldn’t agree with him, having coached him, I would vehemently disagree with those assessments.”
Countered Schiano: “I think he has above-average ball skills. I think the thing about strength and those things, he’s great at the line of scrimmage, he’s a strong guy, he can press. Which, for a corner in that league, especially, everything’s got to happen in those first five yards. He’s made for that.” As for McCourty’s closing speed: ”He can run, now. All you’ve got to do is look at his times [4.48 for the 40 at the combine].”
Schiano said McCourty was going to be a first-round pick even if the Patriots passed. “Those guys do their research in that league,” he said. “You don’t make mistakes like that. I know that had the Patriots not taken him, he was going to get taken in the first round. Let’s leave him at that.”