FOXBORO -- With the first of two second-round picks, the Patriots selected Illinois safety Tavon Wilson Friday night. Wilson was not in the top 100 of many experts' mock drafts, but the Patriots saw enough from him to take a chance on him with the 48th pick overall.
Wilson was a team captain and a 21-year-old senior, two factors that may have played a significant role. He played in all 12 games (one start vs. Northwestern) as a true freshman in 2008, posting 11 tackles, one pass breakup and zero interceptions with half a tackle for loss. Wilson moved into the starting lineup in ’09 and recorded 74 tackles and a sack, with 3.5 tackles for loss in 12 games (11 starts) at cornerback.
After Illinois was hit hard by injuries, he moved to strong safety for the ’10 season and responded with two tackles for loss in 13 starts. Moved back to cornerback for the ’11 campaign, he registered 81 solo tackles, with 6 1/2 tackles for loss, one sack and one forced fumble in 13 starts — 12 at CB and one when he played strong safety and wore jersey No. 9 in tribute to teammate Trulon Henry, who was shot a week prior.
Scouts consider Wilson a physically and mentally tough defensive back who has played corner and free safety, though his movement skills are more smooth than sudden. At his best in zone coverage, Wilson succeeds when he keep plays in front of him. Further reports have him reading and reacting quickly and being physical filling in run support.