Dissecting Devin … with those who know

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In my Sunday NFL Notes this morning, there’s a section I devoted examining how opponents broke down and planned for dealing with Rutgers-ex and Patriots first-round pick Devin McCourty.

(Thanks to Sean Smith for the attached graphic, which you can see in full here)

Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt lauded McCourty as a player who could do myriad things, and stuck out as a leader for the Scarlet Knights. West Virginia offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen went a little more in-depth, breaking down how Greg Schiano’s scheme and his deployment of McCourty made it difficult to evaluate the young player.

And Mullen had some more for us that didn’t make it in the paper. Here’s some of that:

On his approach for McCourty: “Clearly, on tape, you could see he was a game-changer, and given the decision, we’d work away from him. And having said that, to be fair, our throwing offense has been one that’s been a work-in-progress. So when we have had the opportunity to got one-on-one with him, we have made that decision to not throw at him. And other times, it simply didn’t come into the plan because we wanted to establish guys like Noel Devine and Patrick White.”

On the comparisons to brother Jason McCourty:
“It’s hard to say. You want to be fair to his brother, too, who was a good player in his own right. Height, weight, 40, they’re similar. I do think saying they’re similar would be fair, but clearly, as the draft has shown, Devin might be a little bit more of a player.”


On where you can get him: “Maybe with double-moves. Oftentimes, when you have a great defensive back — and this is making a bit of an assumption, because I’ve seen it with great defensive backs on our team — the great ones play with a sense of taking chances. There’s no fear of failure there. So you can get them on double moves.”

On what jumps out: “Production. He just made plays. He’s constantly around the football. He was constantly making plays. With all the responsibilities he had to handle as a corner in that defense, he still managed to be statistically productive, and around the football. That makes it difficult on an offense, when it’s always that guy there.”

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Overall: “He’s very, very special. As a coach, you realize there are people capable of creating mismatches. There are a number of defensive ends in our league that are really good — The two kids at South Florida, the two at Pitt. With those guys, you go into the game, and it drastically changes your protection schemes. You’re gonna slide, and chip to deal with those guys. But it’s a little more difficult to move a front guy around, and so he has to combat those doubles. With the back-end guys, it’s a little easier — You can put him in the boundary, to the strength of the formation, away from the strength — and when you move a guy like that around it makes it difficult on an offense. But the guy has to have the skills and awareness to do it, and this guy clearly did. … He’s long, athletic, a great cover guy and a big-time hitter. He’s the complete package, with really good return skills as well. I mean, you get the guy with the ball in his hands, and he’s really dangerous. In Division I college football, this guy was a special player.”

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