Better Draft Pick: Jason or Devin McCourty?

| July 10, 2011

Who was a better draft pick, Jason McCourty or Devin McCourty?
 
You may want to dismiss the question out of hand given Devin’s celebrated 2010 season in which he was an All-Pro, a Pro Bowler, and won PFF’s Rookie of the Year … and Jason you may never have heard of. A closer look, however, reveals interesting findings.
 
Today, I’ll compare the McCourty twins to each other and to their respective cornerback draft classes.
 
 
 
 

Head-to-Head

First, a direct comparison. Jason McCourty was drafted in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL draft, giving him two years’ worth of data to look at here compared with Devin’s one. In Jason’s rookie season he played 274 snaps and ended with a -2.5 coverage grade. In Devin’s rookie season, he amassed 1,121 snaps with a +6.8 coverage grade, leading all Patriots defensive backs by at least 200 snaps and earning the team’s top individual coverage mark.
 
If that were the end of the story, it would be a boring one with an easy answer. It was Jason McCourty’s sophomore season that makes the question somewhat interesting. In his second season, Jason accumulated 505 snaps with a +7.1 coverage grade placing him 10th overall among corners – one spot higher then Devin’s 11th ranking (including postseason).
 
Probably the eeriest comparison stat of all could be found in Nathan Jahnke’s Stat Sheet Misconceptions: Yards per Catch article. After breaking down all cornerbacks to find the best corners in terms of yards allowed per play in coverage (YPPC), incredibly the McCourty twins finished with nearly identical numbers. With just under half the number of plays in coverage, Jason (0.875) finished slightly better than brother Devin (0.896) for 13th best in the NFL. Identical twins = identical YPCC?
 

Player Plays in Coverage Yards Allowed YPCC
Jason McCourty 322 plays 287 yards 0.891
Devin McCourty 685 plays 614 yards 0.896

 

Based on this, however, I would argue you still have to give it to Devin who had a spectacular year, and Jason’s two years of data are benefitting him. The question, though, is who was the better draft pick not player.
 

Draft Class Comparison

How have they fared compared to their respective CB draft classes?
 
In 2009, 36 cornerbacks were drafted (Jarius Byrd and Malcolm Jenkins were drafted as cornerbacks but have played the majority of their snaps at safety so they have been removed). The table below looks at the 13 cornerbacks who have played at least 750 combined snaps in their two seasons.
 
Looking at the two years of data, Jason has had the strongest showing of all his fellow 2009-drafted CBs with a +7.1 in 2010. Then when you consider what round he was drafted in, it becomes even more impressive since Captain Munnerlyn (feel like I’m insulting him, but that is his real name) is the only other player drafted later than McCourty to be on this list.
 

Players Team Round 2 Year Snap Total Coverage Rating 2010 (rank) Coverage Rating 2009 (rank)
Jason McCourty TEN 6 779 +7.1 (1st) -2.5 (8th)
Darius Butler NE 2 924 +4.6 (2nd) -2.3 (6th)
Sean Smith MIA 2 1,680 +4.2 (3rd) -1.6 (4th)
Captain Munnerlyn CAR 7 1,157 +2.6 (4th) -2.9 (9th)
Vontae Davis MIN 1 1,734 +1.9 (5th) +3.7 (1st)
Lardarius Webb BAL 3 946 -0.1 (6th) +2.8 (2nd)
Greg Toler ARI 4 1,029 -1.7 (7th) +2.0 (3rd)
Alphonso Smith DEN 2 750 -3.3 (8th) -3.8 (10th)
Bradley Fletcher STL 3 1,253 -3.6 (9th) -2.3 (6th)
Glover Quin HOU 4 1,831 -3.7 (10th) -5.7 (11th)
Derek Cox JAC 3 1,674 -6.4 (11th) -16.4 (13th)
Jerraud Powers IND 3 1,470 -9.5 (12th) -7.5 (12th)
Asher Allen MIN 3 909 -10.6 (13th) -1.7 (5th)

 

In 2010, 32 cornerbacks were drafted. The table below takes a look at the nine CBs who played 300 or more snaps in the 2010 season. Devin McCourty’s snap count numbers are extremely impressive, racking up almost 100 more than the next closest cornerback Alterraun Verner. Devin also finished with the second highest coverage rating (+6.8) of all rookie cornerbacks, trailing only Joe Haden’s +10.8.
 

Player Team Round Total Snaps Coverage Rating 2010
Joe Haden CLE 1 813 +10.8 (1st)
Devin McCourty NE 1 1121 +6.8 (2nd)
Alterraun Verner TEN 4 1023 +4.2 (3rd)
Kyle Wilson NYJ 1 348 +1.6 (4th)
Perrish Cox DEN 5 787 +1.3 (5th)
Javier Arenas KC 2 516 +0.1 (6th)
Walter Thurmond SEA 4 358 -1.7 (7th)
Amari Spievey DET 3 576 -1.9 (8th)
Kareem Jackson HOU 1 908 -10.9 (9th)

 

Closing Thoughts

So, what am I driving at?
 
Both the McCourty twins have been impressive draft picks. The major difference between the two, however, is when they were drafted. Yes, the Patriots got a great player in Devin McCourty but had they not selected him with the 27th pick, they still had plenty of promising players at their disposal.
 
What about the Titans? Had they not selected Jason McCourty at the end of the sixth round, then what up-and-coming players could they have selected? Sure, plenty of great players have been drafted late, but let’s face it, the majority come from up where Devin was taken.
 
Ultimately, it’s early in the McCourty twin story. To this point, regardless of their draft round differential, you have to give the nod to Devin as the better player and as the better pick of the twins. However, if Jason continues to close in on matching his brother like he did in 2010, the argument could be made that he’s provided Tennessee with the greater pick value.
 
 
Follow Rodney on Twitter: @RodneyHartJrPFF … and, of course, our main Twitter feed: @ProFootbalFocus
 
 

  • jcal

    The most surprising fact of this article is that Darius Butler finished 2010 with a +4.6 coverage rating.

    • Nathan Jahnke

      With Butler, is pretty much all came from Week 13 and beyond. Prior to that he was below 0, and then he had good game after good game.

      As for the McCourty’s, it will be interesting to see if the Titans bench Finnegan for McCourty. There is a huge difference between their ratings.

    • Rodney Hart

      I agree I was a bit surprised..he had a good week 1, disasterous week 2 and then was effectively benched. Then like Nate said he played reasonably well in limited duty toward the end. Since he wasn’t given the opportunity to be bad beyond weeks 2 and 3, he was able to make up for it in terms of grade. But because he was benched, it makes a good grade hard to believe.

      • R.Q.E.

        He’s not very good in bump-and-run, and he’s downright bad in run support, both of which are necessary out of a DB in Belichick’s defense. He’ll find a home somewhere as a pure cover corner, but that home won’t be in New England.