- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Patriots safety Tavon Wilson was a guest on Sirius XM NFL Radio’s "Late Hits" program with hosts Alex Marvez and Jim Miller on Thursday night, and the interview served as a check-in of sorts on the off-the-radar 2012 second-round draft choice.
It’s interesting to note that even though Wilson was the third player selected by the Patriots last year (after first-round picks Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower), his draft slot (48th overall) would have made him the team’s top pick this year.
So just as some have high hopes for 2013 Patriots top pick Jamie Collins (52nd overall) to emerge quickly, there’s no reason that expectations shouldn’t be at the same level for Wilson.
While Wilson figures to be in the mix to start alongside Devin McCourty, the Patriots also signed veteran Adrian Wilson in free agency.
“He’s been a great player in this league for a long time, and I’m glad we brought him over,” Tavon Wilson said in the Sirius XM NFL Radio interview. “I can learn a lot from Adrian, all the things he knows. I’ve been working closely with him so far and trying to soak up everything I can from him.”
One of the trickle-down effects of the Adrian Wilson signing is his influence on younger players like Tavon Wilson. It's similar to a different “Wilson” for the Patriots, 2003 second-round draft choice Eugene Wilson of Illinois, who was mentored by veteran Rodney Harrison over a four-year span.
Over the last five weeks in the Patriots’ offseason program, Tavon Wilson explained that one of the things Adrian Wilson has stressed is understanding more than his own assignment, but also how the offense is attempting to attack the scheme. Wilson feels as if he has a solid foundation from which to build.
As a rookie in 2012, he played in every game, with four starts when injuries to starters added up. He showed solid ball skills (4 interceptions), but also was involved in coverage breakdowns on two deep passes that went for touchdowns. Wilson (6-0, 210 pounds) ultimately played 42.5 percent of the defensive snaps in the regular season, with his primary niche coming in a linebacker-type role in the dime package.
Whether he can expand that role, and how it all comes together with returning starter Steve Gregory and free-agent signee Adrian Wilson, will be one of the interesting storylines to follow in training camp.