Tom Brady has received no shortage of high praise for piloting the Patriots’ offense over the past decade plus. The leader of New England’s defense over that time period, however, often doesn’t receive proper recognition.

Devin McCourty has been a staple in the Patriots’ defense since the franchise used their top pick on him in the 2010 NFL Draft. McCourty has been one of the best safeties in the league since transitioning to the position but has more team accolades on his résumé than personal ones. The three-time Super Bowl champion only has been selected to two Pro Bowls in nine seasons and never has been named to a first-team All-Pro squad.

For this reason and more, NFL Network’s Rhett Lewis identifies McCourty has one of the NFL’s most underrated players.

“For my defensive player, I went up to New England because I feel like they are perennially underrated individually. The unit gets a lot of love, usually toward the end of the season when they figure they things out. I almost went Dont’a Hightower here, but I’m gonna go with Devin McCourty,” Lewis said on a recent episode of “Move the Sticks.” “I almost went Hightower because if he doesn’t make the tackle on Marshawn Lynch before the Russell Wilson interception, that ball game is over anyway and they don’t have another Super Bowl. But McCourty has been a stabilizing force back there for that defense. He’s the one guy that Bill Belichick has chosen to pay and has chosen to keep. Hightower is another one of those. Hightower’s missed some time with injury while McCourty has just always been available. If he steps away, then that is a huge loss for this Patriots team. So, therefore, I believe he is one of the most underrated guys. Doesn’t get a ton of the numbers in terms of interceptions, but I don’t think you can quantify what he does well in terms of stats. So give me Devin McCourty as my underrated guy.”

There was a brief moment following Super Bowl LIII when McCourty’s NFL future remained uncertain, but the 31-year-old ultimately decided to return for a 10th campaign. And like Lewis noted, New England would have had a major void to fill had McCourty elected to hang up his pads.

McCourty will be right back at it in the upcoming season leading the Patriots’ secondary, which arguably is the strongest facet of the team’s defense. If the unit performs similar to how it did last season, New England will be in a good spot to make another deep playoff run.

Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images