McCourty and Talib were the cornerstones of the secondary, but the group was beefed up during this past draft with the selection of two Rutgers defensive backs in the third round, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan.
Harmon has been a fill-in starter for both Steve Gregory and McCourty at safety, while Ryan has seen his playing time increase throughout the season. He's even been used as a top two cornerback in the base defense as Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington have worked through injuries.
That, along with five interceptions (most among NFL rookies), landed Ryan on Mel Kiper Jr.'s All-Rookie team, as was recently posted on ESPN.com.
One area that has stood out in regards to Ryan this season is his ball skills. That was an area of strength for him in college, though a slower time in the 40 at the combine (4.56 seconds) pushed him down into the third round.
That was good news for the Patriots, who plucked him with a pick acquired in a draft-day trade with Minnesota.
Ryan's ascension has helped the secondary go from an area of limitation in 2012 to one of the more dependable groups for the Patriots this season.
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