The New England Patriots decided to sign veteran strong safety Adrian Wilson, formerly of the Arizona Cardinals, to a three-year deal this offseason in order to initially solve the issues at safety. Wilson is an imposing, leadership presence who excels in-the-box and is among the best SSs in coverage. His struggles in coverage were exaggerated by the Cardinals organization, in my opinion, and you can read my expanded thoughts on Wilson and how he fits here. Wilson has quickly become a part of the Patriots locker room, and his teammates have already given him a nickname that attests to his physical presence- “The Hulk”.
Tavon Wilson was deemed a “reach” in the second-round of the 2013 NFL Draft, but we later figured out that the San Diego Chargers also wanted him. We also figured out that Wilson is a darn good player, and here are my expanded thoughts on him in an analysis piece from February. Adrian Wilson should be able to take Tavon Wilson under his wing and mentor him, and this is the ideal situation for both players. Tavon showed plenty of promise as an all-around safety last season, and that’s exactly what Adrian was during his incredible career with the Arizona Cardinals.
When asked about Adrian Wilson, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick stated via ESPN Boston, “He’ll compete with our other safeties and we’ll see how it all turns out. He’s an experienced guy who brings an element of size and toughness to the position. He’s been running well for us here in the offseason, so we’ll see how that goes. I think he’ll be all right.”
He was specifically asked about Wilson’s supposed decline in long speed, so this calms some people’s fears about that when he addresses it towards the end of the quote. Honestly, I don’t give a rat’s rear end about Wilson’s drop in long speed, because he isn’t going to be playing in deep coverage often- Devin McCourty is one of the best in the business in that role. Wilson is still great defending short and intermediate routes, and the Cardinals evaluation and usage of Wilson last season was ineffective. Sure he got burned more than a few times, but Wilson was actually above-average in coverage overall due to his ability to shutdown shorter passes.
Bill Belichick said of Tavon Wilson’s rookie season, “Good. I think Tavon made a lot of progress over the course of the season. He’s a solid guy who early in the year had to make some adjustments, like all rookies do. But he’s mature, hard-working, a tough kid that has good size; he’s physical. He played well for us in a number of situations, both close to the line, in the kicking game, and at times in the deep part of the field. He got his hands on some balls, had a few interceptions. He’s an instinctive player and we feel good about his future here.”
If you think Tavon Wilson is a failure, a bad pick, or struggled as a rookie, then I don’t think you watched him closely enough last season. You probably made your opinion on a few plays instead of the whole, and that’s completely understandable. That’s why I love sites like the Pro Football Focus or watching “All-22″ tape, because it keeps things in perspective. I think Wilson had a solid rookie season, and the future looks very bright for Wilson. As for the elder Wilson, he’s going to make a big impact quickly, in my opinion.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.