Best of Belichick Era: Number 26 — Devin McCourty

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I'm spending 50 days ranking the top 50 players of the Bill Belichick Era, from No. 50 down to No. 1. (Click here for a criteria on how I made my selections.)

Enjoy.

Today we reach . . . .

NUMBER 26: DEVIN McCOURTY
Years With Patriots: 2010-present
Games: 77
Playoff Games: 11
Honors: Super Bowl winner (2014), All-Pro, 2nd team (2010, 2013), Pro Bowl (2010)

The best thing about Devin McCourty is that he does his job so well, his proficiency slips under the radar.

He’s got outstanding range. He tackles as well as any free safety in the NFL and doesn’t shrink from a trucking. He sets the secondary and coverages. He communicates and gives support to the Patriots' ever-rotating fleet of corners. He has enough ability as a cover guy to have been runner-up for Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2010 (when he was also second-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler). And he has enough versatility to make the switch to safety and actually play even better over there.

On a defense that’s had its rocky moments the past five seasons but has played well enough to get to two Super Bowls, four AFC Championship games and, in McCourty’s rookie season, 14 wins, McCourty is the only constant in the back-seven. He’s been a captain for the Patriots since his second year in the league.

One of McCourty’s biggest strengths? Durability. He’s missed just three of 80 games.

A defense without McCourty at the back isn’t a prospect the Patriots relished. That’s why they re-upped him for five years this offseason. 

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