FOXBORO, Mass. — This was a change of pace. The Patriots drafted two high-profile defensive players in Thursday's first round, but they went off the grid in the second, selecting Illinois safety Tavon Wilson with the 48th pick.
The 6-foot, 203-pounder had 81 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, six pass defenses, one sack and 6.5 tackles for loss in 2011.
Wilson is a strong tackler who can play in the box, but he struggles in coverage. He's got good speed and strength, and he should be an asset on special teams. Wilson has been a Big Ten Honorable Mention twice, but he was not invited to the combine. He's got experience at cornerback and took over for current Dolphins corner Vontae Davis after he departed for the NFL.
Wilson was a captain last year, and he comes across as a good leader. After playing safety as a junior, the coaches asked him where he wanted to play as a senior. Wilson chose cornerback because he thought it was in the team's best interest due to the fact that they had better players at safety.
Wilson will most likely back up safety Patrick Chung, who has had some injury issues, but Wilson has room to grow. He can also play cornerback, either inside or outside, so he'll provide depth throughout the secondary.
Wilson was a virtual unknown. He was the 24th-ranked safety by ESPN, and he wasn't invited to the combine. Wilson used that for motivation and said he "watched every rep of it."
"I just try to be the best player Tavon can be."
–Wilson, on who he models his game after.