Illinois safety Tavon Wilson could have gone undrafted in the 2012 NFL draft.
It wasn't shocking that the Patriots, who needed some help in the secondary, selected a safety. However, it was shocking that they went after Wilson, who few draft experts had getting selected in the early rounds, if at all.
According to ESPN Insider, Wilson was the 24th-best safety prospect in the draft class. Pro Football Weekly ranked him as the 12th-best free safety prospect.
I'm guessing that another team must have had their eye on Wilson, because the Patriots wouldn't have needed to select him this high otherwise. Wilson is tough and athletic, and he has good size for the NFL, but his range, agility and tackling skills are questionable. It's hard to rank a safety high if he doesn't have very good range or tackling ability.
Wilson joined fellow teammate and receiver A.J. Jenkins as one of the surprises of the first two rounds. The San Francisco 49ers selected Jenkins at No. 30 overall, despite him largely being considered a second-round pick.
Whatever's in the water in Illinois, NFL teams apparently like it, and it led to the Patriots drafting a player who was ranked 32 out of 100 by ESPN Insider.
Will Tavon Wilson surprise in the NFL?
One thing Wilson does have is versatility. He has the ability to play both cornerback and safety and we all know Bill Belichick loves versatile players in his many defensive schemes. But to draft Wilson in the second round is frankly astounding, and rivals the Seattle Seahawks' pick of Bruce Irvin in the first round.
If Wilson surprises in the NFL, the Patriots are going to look like geniuses. But, as much as I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, I just don't see this working out for them.
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