2012 Draft: Patriots Pick by Pick Breakdown

Tavon Wilson, CB/FS, Illinois – Round Two Pick #48

It woudln’t be a Bill Belichick draft, if he didn’t make at least one selection that left everyone scratching their head or saying “WTF”.

This Tavon Wilson pick in the second round definitely did that for me. Let’s first get one thing clear. I am not knocking Tavon Wilson or the pick on his talent. I am just questioning the pick based on where in the draft they made the selection.

I obviously didn’t spend anywhere near the time evaluating this kid that Bill Belichick and his staff did, so they have a much better understanding of his talent level and fit into the defense. However, I find it very tough to believe that they had to pick this kid at #48 otherwise they would have lost him. While Wilson made seven pre-draft visits, picking him at #48 in second round, according to EVERYONE I have talked to has to be considered a reach.

I believe the fact that the Patriots only had two selections left in the entire draft at the time of the pick had something to do with it. I am sure they would have liked to trade down, but found no takers. Worried that they would be unable to come out of the draft without Wilson and worried that they may not be able to trade down from pick #62 at the time, Bill Belichick took the player that he wanted.

On the field, Wilson is a versatile defensive back (notice the trend). He has lined up all over the secondary throughout his career at Illinois. This season he was asked which position he would like to play, safety or cornerback and chose corner, because he felt the team needed him more. For the Patriots, I like Tavon Wilson at the free safety position.

Watching him on tape over the weekend, I think he is better when the play is in front of him. He seems to have the range and recognition skill that a safety at the NFL needs. Wilson also is a good blitzer and was asked to do it many times at game in college. Watching the Illinois secondary on tape, there seemed to be a lot of coverage breakdowns and on many occasions the “help” or rotation never came. This caused Wilson to be “left out to dry” quite a bit. I am sure Bill Belichick has seen through all this and has already envisions how Wilson will fit into the Patriots secondary.

Overall, I wasn’t a fan of the pick. There were better players on the board in my opinion and without trading down that #48 pick in the draft is just too high for a player like Wilson. I really hope I am wrong and I am anxious to see what he can do on an NFL field.

Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas – Round Three Pick #90

With the third round selection they received in the trade down with the Green Bay Packers the Patriots selected Jake Bequette, who is a pass rusher from Arkansas.

Bequette lined up primarily at 4-3 defensive end throughout his days at the University of Arkansas, recording 23.5 sacks and 31 tackles for a loss. Bequette was able to rack up 10 sacks this past year despite missing three complete games due to injury. While Bequette wasn’t mentioned as one of the premier pass rushers leading up to the draft, he was as productive as any defensive end in college football over the past two seasons.

Bequette, who is 6’4.5″ 274 lbs, had one of the best combines of any defensive players. What is remarkable about Bequette’s performance is that he ran a 6.90 3-Cone drill and a 4.07 short shuttle, which is better than the majority of the wide receivers and running backs who were drafted this year. We have highlighted throughout the draft season how much the Patriots value those drills and this pick is a reflection of that.

Like the other picks before him, Bequette offers some position versatility. While he didn’t play OLB in college he was asked to play there in the senior bowl and did so willingly. While I think he will be used mostly as a rush end for the Patriots he has shown that he does have at least the raw ability to stand up in drop into coverage if need be.

Bequette was a two-time defensive captain at Arkansas and is regarded as a smart, hard-working and dedicated football player. All qualities which the Patriots value highly. I believe Bequette will be able to get on the field this year and provide some situational pass rush from one edge position.

Nate Ebner, SS, Ohio State – Round Six Pick #197

The Nate Ebner pick was a little bit of a head scratcher at the time, only because he wasn’t projected to be drafted. After learning more about his background information, the type of character he has and the way he plays special teams the pick makes perfect sense… for the Patriots.

Bill Belichick notoriously drafts special teams standouts in the final rounds of the draft and turns them into solid NFL special teams players. While other teams wait until the UDFA signing period to target special teamers, the Patriots actively scout and target specific ones to bring to Foxboro.

The former rugby star should be able to come in and really give some of the other special teams only players on the Patriots a run for their money. Ebner seems like a highly motivated, maximum effort player. He is the type of person who understands his role and won’t complain about lack of playing time. The pick of Ebner reminded me of the famous Bill Belichick saying regarding the draft “We are building a team, not collecting talent.” NFL teams need players like Ebner.

I believe Ebner will likely take the roster spot of a player like Ross Ventrone or Malcolm Williams, eliminating the daily transactions just to get enough special teams players onto the team. Ebner, like second round draft pick Tavon Wilson, has overcome a lot of adveristy in his lifetime. His father was killed in 2008 defending his business from a robbery attempt. The Patriots really focused on high character players in this years draft and Ebner is of the highest character possible.

Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska Round 7 Pick #224

Besides the first round draft picks of Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower, the pick of Alfonzo Dennard in the seventh round is my favorite pick and it’s not close.

We say it every year how the Patriots got a steal in this player so and so, but with Dennard the Patriots are getting a legitimate second round cornerback in the seventh round. I really believe that if it wasn’t for the arrest last weekend that Dennard would have been drafted on day two.

Dennard also fills a need for the Patriots. He is best suited to play slot cornerback, which is a position that plagued the Patriots last season. He is a “shorter and squatty” corner who loves to play at the line of scrimmage and get physical with receivers. He has experience in press man coverages as well as press and bail.

He was able to play at a high level of competition the past two seasons against some of the top wide receivers in the country, including Justin Blackmon, Ryan Broyles, Marvin McNutt and Alshon Jeffey. I believe Dennard will make an impact on the field this season, as a nickel or dime cornerback.

When we look back on this draft next year, this is going to end up being one of the steals. He is simply too good, too competitive not to wash out after one season. Falling to the seventh round should only motivate him and make him hungry to prove himself. A lot has been made of the arrest and it was awful judgement, but other than that he has stayed out of trouble off the field. Like they said with Ryan Mallett last year, if Alfonzo Dennard can’t succeed in New England he won’t be able to succeed anywhere.

Jeremy Ebert, WR, Northwestern – Round Seven Pick #235

The Patriots wrapped up their 2012 draft by taking their only offensive player in the class. Ebert is a slot WR who has been productive throughout his career at Northwestern, totaling 173 catches for 2400 yards and 21 receiving touchdowns.

He was timed at 4.41 at his pro day and some scouts timed him at under 4.4. Ebert will add youth to a position that was strengthened with a lot of veteran free agent talent this off-season. Ebert might not see the field much this year, but he is someone who the Patriots should be able to stash on the practice squad and develop for the future. Ebert is known for running very good routes, having very good hands and being a smart football player. Ebert will draw comparisons to Wes Welker, only because he is a white slot wide receiver.

Coming out of college Ebert is bigger than Wes Welker and much faster. At the very least he will provide competition to Julian Edleman and Anthony Gonzalez for the final wide receiver spot on the Patriots roster.

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22 Responses to “2012 Draft: Patriots Pick by Pick Breakdown”

  1. Dave Hunter says:

    Has anyone else read this analysis of the Pats 2012 draft from ex-pro player Corey Chavous(played 11 years,made a pro bowl as a db), who now scouts and has his own scouting site? He offers up in my opinion more actual eyes on evaluation of some our draftees than anywhere else I’ve read.
    “On Tavon Wilson. ”He was a pretty good leader for the team when they had injury problems. He moved to safety seemlessly. I think he’s going to be good for the secondary out there, I really do. I think he has a lot of potential. His best football is ahead of him. I always thought his best work would be at corner, but then when I saw him at safety, he takes really good angles. He breaks up a lot of passes, I’d just like to see him finish on the ball a little better. The one thing I really like about him, he’s got really good movement skills. He bends well, he can play a lot of different positions. He’s a very mature kid who could start year one.”

    “On Jake Bequette: ”Watching him move around at the Senior Bowl as an outside backer, he looked better than (Shea) McClellin who went in the first round . . . I think he has a chance to be a really good football player. I like his energy, I like his motor, he has a very high football I.Q. He’s played in multiple football schemes in Arkansas. He’s a very underrated athlete.”

    More on the other draftees in the link below.


    • MilitStrat54 says:

      Please respond to the following, interested in others opinions or better yet, facts if you’ve got any… Lavonte David was available when the Pats chose Wilson. David is a smallish linebacker yet considered one of, if not the greatest Nebraska defensive player due to his speed and quickness, anticipation, ability to cover receivers and football IQ. At 6 foot 1 inches tall and 233 lbs he would be a fantastically solid and sized safety. Couldn’t the Pats have used his size and speed in the box as a strong safety or his ability to cover and anticipation at free safety. Isn’t it possible that David, and not Barron was the best safety not only available but in the entire draft? Is it possible that just because a guy excels at one position that he is overlooked for an other position that he might excel at even more? It is said that BB took Wilson when he did because he couldn’t take the risk not to. I suggest that taking David instead of Wilson in round two was less of a risk because (1) David is a better athlete with an adaptable skill set to safety (David was identified as the steal of the draft by MULTIPLE draft experts to include Kiper and McShay and it’s hard for these guys to agree on anything);(2) taking David and sending the message that the Pats got their safety, makes it less likely others would take Wilson early to hurt the Pats (allowing the Pats to pick him up a few rounds later);(3) there is no downside to David, he can always strengthen the linebacker corps and special teams. If Wilson isn’t a top notch safety, what else can he do? Seems BB missed option #1 and went straight to option #2. And at 233 lbs David would be the HAMMER the Pats (and everyone else) have been looking for. Looking for facts, measureables and insights as opposed to “BB knows what he’s doing”. For snickers and grins, I picked both Revis and Mathews in past drafts (sorry to say the Pats passed/ I did miss Brady though). Thoughts?

      • MilitStrat54 says:

        Saw an interesting comment that BB wanted a hybrid (safety/cornerback) so to as to mask when he had a third CB on the field. Parcells said as much when asked how he’d line up in todays game. Like the idea, always good to have as many offensive attack possibilities defended. BUT/BUT, I don’t disagree with the strategic concept (I endorse it). I just don’t see how he came up with this guy to fit the role. The differences in measureables between Lavon (Wilson) and Lavonte (David) seem to favor Lavonte (David) at every turn. Faster-bearly, more athletic, taller-by an inch, heavier-by 28 lbs, stronger, more powerful, better tackler, better on film, better technique, greater anticipation, more experienced, better coached, more time on the field. Only thing Lavon has on him is time spent at the position (more fluid hips?). Could it be that BB yelled get Lavonte and they only heard Lavon. Would like to hear from that gremlin living inside BBs head. If it was a mistake, easy to forgive. Find out how it was made, correct it, and move on. If BB really thinks this kid is something special, the draft is over, he doesn’t need to keep it a secret any more. Inquiring minds would like to know. Anybody know??? My view is that David could be a better Barron, and could shut down his side of the field. Imagine an Ed Reed who hits like Ray Lewis. Linebackers have less time to react than safeties, and David’s react time was sensational as a linebacker. Math equation for the thinking man…
        +Lavon -Lavonte = (leaves) Patriots barron (at safety)

    • Jackson Murrell says:

      The Wilson pick in Rd 2 was awful. I’ve seen several attempts to rationalize it, none of which are convincing. The Pats used a 2d round pick on a guy they could have signed as an UDFA. It was not just a “head-scratcher”, as the acolytes like to say. It was stupid. Al Davis never reached so far. It seems like BB just lost interest after Rd 1. By Rd 6 he was blowing a draft pick on a rugby player-the very epitome of a UDFA. No matter how good either guy turns out, the fact of the matter is that they could have been signed right off the street. Worst draft in the league. And you all secretlly know it.

  2. Phil says:

    The safety positon still needs to be addressed. Hopefully, Steve Gregory will have a productive season.

  3. Joe Blake says:

    I would have rather had Devon Still at 48.

  4. Jim R says:

    What BB did this year was as close to a wow factor as you will get. Moving up twice in the first round speaks volumes for what he thought of the players he took. Wilson and bequette they will help in an area of need. Dennard will see action in sub packages. The other guys are SLATER type projects. UFA’s 1-2 will make the 53 man roster you know that

    • MilitStrat54 says:

      By wow, do you mean..wow he spent too many draft points for what he got?
      OR do you mean..wow he finally is paying attention to the defense just like a coach should?

  5. T.S. says:

    This guy is funny. For 1, He mentions how Ebner has the highest character because he lost his dad to a robbery/murder. But no mention of Wilson’s parents being deceased or the character it takes to overcome that. 2ndly, you state in your Wilson passage that even in your OWN 7-rd mock. You had him at #48 but you question BB. So either you dont trust YOUR work or you trust ppl’s opinion more then your own eyes. That my friend, is what separates you from a scout/Coach. You pretend to know things you havent a clue about. And then blog abt it like its fact. Tsk tsk

  6. TD says:

    Jones & Bequette are fill-ins for Carter and Anderson. If Anderson comes back, we have some major pass rush.

    Get Hightower and Dennard favorable situational matchups, and we may finally have a defense here.

    I, for one am sick of reading about slot WR’s that are bigger and faster than Welker, most of the WR’s in the NFL are bigger and faster! What they are not-is quicker and smarter and oh by the way racking up 110-120 catches a year. The guy is a machine!!

  7. big w says:

    I guess we put the high character thing to bed when we picked Denard.

  8. Sportsbozo says:

    I will have to echo most of your comments. I had Dennard coming to the Patriots at #48. The kid from Illinois Wilson was the 3rd leading tackler in the nation for impact tackling. He completely shut down two of the top WR’s in the big ten last year,McNutt Iowa’s top receiver gained a whopping one yard on one catch against him,while Robinson of Michigan State put up a goose egg!Let me digress the reason why I had Dennard coming to the Patriots was because BB went to his pro day.Besides the obvious abilities of the first rounders I think BB may have actually committed a form of larceny when he snagged Bequette,he has a constant motor! Ebert is not WW or the second coming of WW,but he is a consistant reciever and he’s bigger and faster than WW,the only question is can he beat out Edelman or Gonzalez or both for that fact. I don’t know much about the SS from Ohio State.It should be an interesting camp with many of the vets being pushed by the influx of youngsters..14-2 and another SB victory!

  9. Tom says:

    Really good point about only having two picks left when they selected Wilson. I thought the Wilson pick was partly a reflection of a weak safety class, and Wilson having some of the most experience of the safeties who were left. Seemed like a lot of drafts had the Patriots taking a conversion project (from CB to FS) , but drafting an under the radar player with safety experience makes more sense to me. It would be interesting to know what the Patriots thought of Iloka in their scheme.

  10. Spearhead says:

    Thanks for the info. I liked the draft this year because of the number of overall trades. They fixed the rookie salary issue and I think it is going to help the NFL overall.

    I liked the fact that BB seized his draftees this year. With Vareen, Das-Rowling and Cannon all healthy this year, it seems we will have 2 years worth of evaluating; both the 2011 and 2012 PAT’s drafts.

  11. @59russo59 says:

    I love Ebner. Here’s a youtube vid highlighting him. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIq-MaR5rCM
    I can imagine the scouting staff seeing this and nodding their heads in approval.

    Not sure about Bequette, I hope he isn’t arrogant like the scouting reports say.

    Jones seems like a swell high character guy, hope he solidifies that elephant spot. Obviously, I place emphasis on the personality of these picks rather than their skill sets because no one knows how the skills will translate at the NFL level.

    • dflem89 says:

      From what I’ve read on Bequette he seems like a high-energy, passionate, overachiever and was captain for two years… Seems to have a good football-mindset to me, but I haven’t really heard about him off the field…

    • Ken W says:

      Thanks for posting that video of Ebner. Very excited to see this guy play now. Lots of respect for him. Seems like a great teammate and leader. Already know he is tough because of the rugby background.

    • BILL says:

      I like the Bequette pick, especially at #93. You can’t overstate the talent level in SEC, and he’s a 4 year/3 yr starter. Probably on th elevel of Vinny Curry who went 30-40 spots earlier. I’m really surprised Cam Johnson went so late. Keep an eye on him

    • TD says:

      check out this clip: Nate Ebner Ohio State 7’s

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