15 most important Patriots for 2019: No. 9, Devin McCourty

With the Patriots off until training camp, we’re having a series featuring the 15 most important Patriots players for the upcoming season. The countdown will continue for the next several weeks.

No. 9: Devin McCourty

Position: Safety

2018 stats: 82 tackles, one interception, one pass defensed

Why he’s No. 9: McCourty is undoubtedly one of the biggest leaders on the Patriots defense having spent all nine years of his NFL career in New England. The safety knows the system better than anyone and is the quarterback of sorts guiding people where to line up from his center field position on defense. His impact also goes beyond the field as he's one of the leaders in the locker room and has done a great job over the years of getting the entire team to come together as one. It should also be noted how much he helps the younger members of the secondary, which was on full display last year with J.C. Jackson's emergence late in the year.

Given how much he means to the unit, some may argue why isn't he higher on the list, but when it comes to his on-field impact it could be argued Duron Harmon could do pretty much the same thing. McCourty's primary role is to play deep and not let anyone behind him and Harmon can do that as well, so it isn't like if McCourty were to go down the defense would be in deep trouble. Certainly, it's better when McCourty is on the field, but he could be replaced if necessary.

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