BOSTON (CBS) — One day after moving up twice in the first round, the Patriots used their first pick of the second round to select Tavon Wilson, a safety from Illinois, with the 48th pick of the NFL Draft.
Wilson is listed at 6-feet, 205 pounds. He was an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention last year, when he made one interception, one sack, 81 total tackles and two fumble recoveries.
Patriots legend Troy Brown took the stage with commissioner Roger Goodell to announce the pick.
Scouts say Wilson’s biggest assets are his size, strength and athleticism, while the knocks on him are his coverage and questionable ball skills. He made just three interceptions in his four years at Illinois.
Wilson is on Twitter @TavonWilson3.
The Patriots also traded the 62nd overall pick of the draft for a third-round and fifth-round pick.
Conference call with Tavon Wilson:
Q: What has this day been like for you? When did you get the phone call? What did you think?
TW: It’s been an exciting day. It’s everything I ever dreamed of. I got the phone call right before they made the pick. It’s just exciting to be a Patriot.
Q: Heading into the draft, when did you expect to get taken?
TW: I didn’t really know. I was hearing a lot of different things as far as what round and all that stuff. I just tried to focus, keep my head down and just keep on working. I never knew where I was going to be taken, but I just knew it was all over the place. It was out of my hands. I just did everything I can to get drafted as high as possible.
Q: What round were people telling you?
TW: It was kind of all over the place. A lot of people had a lot of different predictions. I didn’t really pay [any] attention to it. I just worked as hard as I could and great things happened for me.
Q: When you look at the safety class, it didn’t seem you were as highly rated as some of the other guys out there. Does it come as a surprise to you to go mid-second round?
TW: I feel like I worked hard enough to go as high as anybody. It was out of my hands, so I just did my part. I just prayed and hoped for the best.
Q: How much pre-draft contact did you have with the Patriots?
TW: I worked out with them before. I pretty much talked to a lot of teams and heard a lot of good things. I worked out for them one time.
Q: Where did you work out for them?
Q: You played corner, you played safety, I’m guessing you probably have some special teams experience as well. What position are you most comfortable in doing? What are some of your strengths?
TW: I feel like I can do both things at a very high level but it’s not really up to me what position I play. It’s up to Coach Belichick and the staff. I’m just going to do everything I can to the best of my abilities to do everything I can to contribute to the team.
Q: Is there a guy out there that you try and model your game after?
TW: Not really. I just try to be the best player Tavon can be. Honestly, there are a lot of great players in the NFL. I’ve looked at some players but I just try to be the best player that Tavon Wilson can be.
Q: When you find that you’re not invited to theCombine, how much harder do you work to get noticed? What was your reaction to it?
TW: I feel like there are only a certain amount of spots that people get invited to the combine. I was confident in my ability. I wish I was there, but I wasn’t. But I looked at it as a positive. I just looked at it as more opportunity to get ready. Everybody else had six weeks and I had eight. Once my pro day came, I felt I was in my best possible shape.
Q: You served as a captain and Coach Belichick likes leaders. Do you think that played a factor and if so, how much?
TW: Most definitely. The Patriots are a great organization; there are a lot of great leaders over there. They’re looking to bring good people into their organization. They do their background information [checks] on everyone. Yes, I think that was a factor. I always put my team above myself. Coach [Ron] Zook always told me that was going to help me out in the long run.
Q: Is it accurate that you played more cornerback last year than safety and if so, was that something that was planned or due to injury?
TW: My junior year I started at safety. I came in as a corner, but my junior someone was hurt, so I had to move to safety. Last year, my coaches asked me what position I wanted to play for my senior season and I told them I wanted to play corner. I kind of played everywhere. I played some safety some games, some corner, some nickel.
Q: Why did you choose to play corner?
TW: I just thought that was where I was most needed on my football team. We had a safety coming back off of injury and I felt like he was a pretty good player. We had some young guys that could play safety, but we didn’t have the other corner, so I said I’d play corner because I thought that was the best fit for the team.
Q: What did you do during the Combine? There’s so much coverage of it. Did you watch it and was it motivating?
TW: I watched every rep of it. I took it all in, tried to watch what those guys did, as far as their techniques and stuff, watched their times and I just tried to go out there and compete against those guys and tried to make my times better.
Q: That must have been kind of lonely. Everyone is in Indianapolis and you’re not there. Was that a motivating factor?
TW: It was definitely motivating. Any time you don’t get into something that you feel like you should be in, you just try – I’m a competitor, so I watched it. I watched it and saw what those guys did. When I got my opportunity to show what I can do, I showed what I can do.
Q: You come from a strong conference. Did that help prepare you?
TW: Yes, sir. We’re a pretty big conference, the Big Ten. It’s a very strong conference; we have some really good players. I felt like we had great coaches at Illinois that prepared me for this opportunity. I’m just thankful to have that opportunity.
Q: Did you have any preconceived notions of the Patriots before being drafted here?
TW: No. I’ve talked to them before. I’ve met with them, but I talked to a lot of teams. You never know what’s going to happen. I was watching the draft with a couple of my close friends and family and I was just watching to see what happened because you never know.
Q: Did you watch the Super Bowl this year? Did you ever think you’d be making the trip to New England a few months later?
TW: I never thought that, but I’m a Patriot now and I’m excited. I’m just going to come in and try to contribute the best I can.
Q: How about special teams?
TW: I played special teams in college. I’m going to play special teams with the Patriots. It’s something I love to do; it’s something I’m going to do.
Q: What specifically did you do special teams-wise?
TW: I played on the punt team, on the kickoff team, I was the hold-up guy on the kickoff return. I played field goal block.
Q: Can you talk about your childhood and some of the struggles you had there with both of your parents passing away?
TW: It was rough. My hat goes off to my grandmother because she’s a very strong woman to take me and my sister in – just raise us the best way she can to try to give us everything she possibly could. I’m glad that I’m able to give her some of those same things she gave me.
Q: Do you think that experience and some of the rough times you had as a child will help you at the NFL level in terms of mental toughness?
TW: Most definitely. Everybody has to overcome adversity. I overcame a lot of things in my life. That’s the reason I’m here today and the reason why I’m the person I am today. I never get too high or too low, I just keep working all the time. I just take everything one day at a time. Hats go off to my grandmother for that. She’s a very strong woman.