It Is What It Is
Follow football writer Christopher Price at In addition, get the latest updates at
A Patriots Blog Blog Network

A closer look at Patriots’ second-round pick Tavon Wilson

04.27.12 at 8:32 pm ET
By   |   Comments

FOXBORO — The last defensive back of note the Patriots took out of Illinois was Eugene Wilson in 2003. They went back to the well on Friday, picking defensive back Tavon Wilson out of Illinois with the 48th selection of the draft.

A 6-foot, 205-pound defensive back, the 22-year-old was named honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2011 after finishing the year with 81 tackles (51 solo) in 13 starts. For his collegiate career, the former team captain ended his college career with 50 games played, 214 total tackles (141 solo), 12.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions and 22 pass breakups. He has some positional versatility, having played both corner and safety as a collegian.

The first defensive back taken by the Patriots in this draft, he was an unheralded prospect coming out of college, so much so that he did not receive an invite to the combine. Named the team’s outstanding defensive back at the annual postseason banquet, he will likely have to prove himself on special teams before he starts to enter into New England’s rotation at defensive back.

There’s precious little video of Wilson available, but here’s a quick piece we just found on YouTube:

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, Eugene Wilson, Tavon Wilson,

Analysis of the second round of the NFL draft

04.27.12 at 7:16 pm ET
By   |   Comments

Thoughts on the second round, with updates coming with each pick.

33. Rams took Brian Quick, the receiver out of Appalachian State. He’s a big boy at 6-foot-3 4/8 and 220 pounds, but there’s obviously the question of level of competition with the FCS product. LSU’s Rueben Randle, South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery and Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill were on the board at the time, so this pick could be scrutinized in the future if the others prove to have better NFL careers. At the end of the day, the Rams finally got Sam Bradford a receiver, and that’s all that matters.

34. The Colts gave Andrew Luck a toy with whom he is very familiar by bringing in Stanford tight end Coby Fleener. While there were good receivers available in Randle, Hill and Jeffery, the idea of keeping Luck and Fleener together is an intriguing one. Fleener caught 10 touchdown passes from Luck last season.

35. Good on the Ravens to move out of that No. 29 spot Thursday night and still be able to land the pass-rusher they needed. Baltimore landed Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw, a definite first-round talent who fell out of the first round. Given that he played in Nick Saban’s 3-4, Upshaw has enough experience at outside linebacker but has also played with his hand in the dirt.

36. The Broncos got Cincinnati defensive tackle Derek Wolfe, and that begins to fill a huge need. The Broncos had been projected to go after the likes of Michael Brockers and Fletcher Cox in some of our mock drafts. Denver also needs help on the offensive line.

37. The Browns had receivers on the board again and continued to avoid the position by going after Cal tackle Mitchell Schwartz. Cleveland needs a right tackle, but the Browns’ draft remains underwhelming given the Brandon Weeden pick.

38. Clemson defensive end Andre Branch to the Jaguars, and the NFL Network shows him cool, calm and collected as he’s on the phone. He should be angry.

39. The Rams are the team that takes a chance on Janoris Jenkins. He could be one of the top five corners in the league soon, but he fell because he smoked too much marijuana in college. It worked out with the Patriots and Aaron Hernandez, so don’t write off Jenkins.

Here’s a story on Jenkins from the combine.

40. The Panthers make another smart pick by going with the tough-as-nails Amini Silatolu. The guard out of Midwestern State is another guy who has to prove he wasn’t just shining against lesser competition in college, but you have to love Carolina’s draft so far after landing Luke Kuechly and Silatolu.

41. Slam-dunk pick for the Bills by getting Cordy Glenn. How that guy got out of the first round is a mystery, but the big lineman can hold down the fort at guard or right tackle in the NFL.

42. Another first-round offensive lineman comes to the AFC East as the Dolphins get Stanford’s Jonathan Martin. The Dolphins can protect Ryan Tannehill better with Jake Long protecting his blindside and Martin at right tackle.

43. Smart move by the Jets to move up and put themselves in position to have their pick of the litter at wide receiver. They ended up giving Seattle their fifth and seventh-round picks in order to go up four spots before choosing Stephen Hill. Tim Tebow had a great former Georgia Tech receiver in Denver in Damaryius Thomas, and Hill is a similar player. He’s tall, fast and is a tremendous blocker, but the lack of production in Georgia Tech’s option offense could have hurt his stock. The issue with the Jets is whether either of the quarterbacks can throw him the ball.

44. Jeff Allen to the Chiefs. They needed guard help, so the Illinois product is a good fit. The question is why they wouldn’t have traded up four or five spots to get a better prospect at the position in Glenn.

45. Love the Alshon Jeffery pick for the Bears. Chicago moved up five spots to grab the South Carolina receiver whose stock took a big hit due to weight concerns. There were rumors that he had ballooned to 250 pounds in the offseason, but he was 213 pounds when scouts came to see him at his Pro Day. Jeffery moves well for a bigger receiver, and his ball skills are tremendous.

46. The Eagles needed linebacker help, and though they traded for Demeco Ryans, they continued to address the need with Mychal Kendricks out of Cal. Kendricks played inside at College, but Philadelphia could play him as an outside linebacker.

47. The Seahawks go for Utah State inside linebacker Bobby Wagner. Good versatility as either an inside or outside guy. Pete Carroll is really trying to give that defense a spark with Bruce Irvin 15th overall and Wagner in the second round.

48. Patriots go with Illinois defensive back Tavon Wilson. Won’t call it a reach, but will call it much higher than expected. Montana’s Trumaine Johnson was still on the board, and he’s a harder hitter and about two inches taller. Both players offer positional versatility as cornerbacks who could make the move to safety.

The NFL Network notes that Wilson is the first player selected in the draft not in Mike Mayock‘s top 100 players.

49. The Chargers go with UConn defensive tackle Kendall Reyes. Some saw him as a first-rounder, but this is a pretty appropriate slot.

50. Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead to the Rams. Another weapon for Bradford, but what about Randle? The bigger need remains at receiver, even after the selection of Quick at No. 33.

51. Packers trade up and take Jerel Worthy. The defensive tackles starting to come off the board quickly in the second round.

52. Titans take Zach Brown, a terrifically athletic linebacker out of UNC who can’t tackle. Kind of like the Darius Butler of linebackers.

53. The Bengals take Devon Still. You have to question the Penn State defensive tackle’s motor, but with the crop becoming depleted with the second-round run on D-tackles, he was the best option at the position.

54. The Lions get a good slot receiver in Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles. A very good option for Matthew Stafford, but Broyles is a bit of a risk, as he’s coming off a torn ACL.

55. Falcons finally make a pick, and it’s a big one. Wisconsin’s Peter Konz is a stud center who had no business falling out of the first round.

56. Ohio State tackle Mike Adams to the Steelers. We projected him to Pittsburgh in the first round in some of our mock drafts, but character concerns made him fall.

57. The Broncos make their second pick of the draft and it’s Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler. Hey, Peyton Manning may have just signed there, but he’s 36 and missed all of last season with his neck injury. Can’t blame the Broncos for being responsible. Osweiler is huge, but very raw. The Broncos obviously hope he won’t be playing any time soon.

58. The Bucs trade up for Lavonte David out of Nebraska. Undersized outside linebacker but has upside.

59. The Eagles finally end Vinny Curry‘s slide and take the Marshall pass-rusher. Not a pick out of need, but a dynamite value.

60. Iowa State offensive lineman Kalechi Osemele to the Ravens. They needed offensive line help badly, and Osemele can contribute right away at either right tackle or either guard position.

61. The 49ers take LaMichael James from Oregon. A good third-down back who could also split time with Frank Gore.

62. The Patriots trade their second-round pick to the Packers for a third-rounder a fifth-rounder. Not great value there for the Pats, as they may have been better off getting a future pick back. The Packers take Vanderbilt corner Casey Hayward.

63. Rueben Randle finally gets drafted, but it ends up being worth the wait for the LSU receiver. He’ll be playing a big role with the Giants as he replaces Mario Manningham.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, alshon jeffery, Amini Silatolu, Bobby Wagner

How smart were Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio to trade up twice in the first round?

04.27.12 at 10:22 am ET
By   |   Comments

FOXBORO — The Patriots under Bill Belichick had traded up in the first round just twice since he came to Foxboro in 2000.

On Thursday night, they matched that total in a span of 15 minutes.

At 10 p.m., the Patriots struck a deal with the Bengals to trade them their 27th overall pick and their third-rounder to move up to 21st so they could take Chandler Jones, the 6-foot-5 defensive end from Syracuse that had rocketed up the draft boards in the last three days.

Once the Bears nabbed defensive end Shea McClellin out of Boise State at No. 19, the Patriots knew they had to make their move. So, with Tennessee on the clock, they consummated the deal with Cincinnati as the Titans were selecting wide receiver Kendall Wright.

It marked the first time since 2003 the Patriots moved up, when they made a move for Ty Warren.

But alas, Belichick and personnel chief Nick Caserio weren’t finished.

They wanted an every down linebacker who could play inside and outside. They had a name in mind – Dont’a Hightower from Alabama.

To get him, they knew they’d have to move from No. 31. So, they entertained offers and the one from the Broncos sounded very reasonable. Denver simply wanted New England’s fourth-round pick this year and the Patriots could move up six spots to No. 25. Deal.

Ten minutes, two first-rounders and the Patriots had their guys.

“They had nothing to do with each other,” Belichick said, sporting a suit and tie in the Gillette Stadium press box. “We made our first pick and, we don’€™t know if a team’€™s going to trade or not. They might. As usual, there were teams we called that didn’€™t want to trade and teams that called us and we didn’€™t want to trade and there have been times when we’€™ve been called and did want to trade.

“You can’€™t count on that. We were focused on our first pick. After we made it, then we looked at what was on the board and what other teams are doing, made some calls, fielded some calls, whatever it was. I don’€™t know. There’€™s a lot of communication in the draft room. Nick handled most of that. So, that’€™s how it worked out.”

Belichick seemed very pleased with the unusual deals he struck.

“I thought we had a good day,” he said. “As usual, the draft always takes some interesting twists and turns. You just never know how it’€™s going to go, but as the players came off the board we were able to execute a couple trades there and still hang onto our two second round picks, which I thought if we moved up I wasn’€™t sure that we would be able to do that, but it worked out that way. Nick really did a good job of handling those.

“I felt like we got good value for them. [We] took Dont’€™a and Chandler. Probably could have been in either order, but we felt like we would have a better chance to end up with both players if it went that way, not that we were sure we would get the second one but we thought we might have a shot at it. Looking forward to working with both guys.”

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick, chandler jones, Dont'a Hightower

Second-round mock draft: What do Patriots do with their remaining picks?

04.27.12 at 2:43 am ET
By   |   Comments

The bad thing about the recent format change of the draft is that it is no longer two lengthy days. The good thing is that it allows a day between the first and second rounds, and that means more time for updated mock drafts.

The Patriots didn’€™t have to part with either of their second-round picks despite moving up a combined 12 spots with the two deals they made Thursday. That means they’€™ll still be on the clock at Nos. 48 and 62 as planned, but those are the only two remaining selections the Pats have in the draft.

Here’€™s how we have the second round shaking out:

33. Rams ‘€“ Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
34. Colts ‘€“ Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
35. Ravens (from Vikings) ‘€“ Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia
36. Broncos (from Buccaneers) ‘€“ Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
37. Browns ‘€“ Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
38. Jaguars ‘€“ Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
39. Rams (from Redskins) ‘€“ Trumaine Johnson, DB, Montana
40. Panthers ‘€“ Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
41. Bills ‘€“ Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
42. Dolphins ‘€“ Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
43. Seahawks — Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
44. Chiefs ‘€“ Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt
45. Rams (from Cowboys) ‘€“ Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
46. Eagles ‘€“ Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida
47. Jets – Jeff Allen, OT, Illinois
48. Patriots (from Raiders) ‘€“ Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina
49. Chargers ‘€“ Amini Silatolu, G, Midwestern State
50. Bears ‘€“ Dwight Bentley, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette
51. Eagles (from Cardinals) – Brandon Taylor, S, LSU
52. Titans ‘€“ Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut
53. Bengals ‘€“ Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State
54. Lions ‘€“ Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia
55. Falcons ‘€“ Bobby Massie, OT, Mississippi
56. Steelers ‘€“ Devon Still, DT, Penn State
57. Broncos ‘€“ Kelechi Osemele, G, Iowa State
58. Texans ‘€“ Brandon Brooks, G, Miami (Ohio)
59. Packers ‘€“ LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
60. Ravens ‘€“ Lavonte David, OLB, Nebraska
61. 49ers ‘€“ Mitchell Schwartz, OT, California
62. Patriots ‘€“ Ben Jones, C, Georgia*
63. Giants ‘€“ Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

* Jones would be a pretty big reach in the second round, but with the Pats not holding any more picks in the draft, they would either have to trade down or take him higher than appropriate.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft,

Chandler Jones’ Thursday night Q&A with the New England media

04.27.12 at 1:36 am ET
By   |   Comments

Here’s the complete transcript of Chandler Jones‘ Q&A with the media Thursday night after he was drafted by the Patriots:

Congratulations. What was that moment like to get the call from Bill Belichick and then to hear the Commissioner say your name? “I was excited. To hear Roger Goodell say my name, that’€™s just a dream come true and I’€™m excited to be a Patriot.”

One of your brothers already plays in the NFL. Have you talked to him about what it’€™s like and how it’s different than being a college athlete? “Yeah, actually my brother Arthur [Jones] has taught me a lot going through this whole draft process. He was basically telling me that the way I carry myself off the field, I’€™m not just representing myself, I’€™m representing the organization. I feel like having a brother that’€™s in the NFL is a great advantage.”

Do you ever fight with your brother [UFC fighter] Jon [Jones]? “Do I ever fight with Jon? No, we don’t fight at all.”

Is that a tactical move on your part? “Yeah, it is. He’€™s a professional fighter; that’s what he’€™s paid to do and I respect that.”

What did you do last weekend for his fight? “I was there. I was in Atlanta. I was sitting there with my brother Arthur. We were front row and supporting him. It was one of his toughest fights and I thank God that he came out with a win.”

How much have teams talked to you about potentially moving to an outside linebacker spot in a 3-4? “To be honest with you, I’€™m just excited to be in this defense. I have no idea where I’€™m going to play. I’€™m going to play wherever coach tells me to play and I’€™m just ready to learn this playbook.”

Is that something you did in college at all, dropping into pass defense? “In college I played at every position; I played at almost all positions. Making the transition to the NFL, my biggest thing right now is just to learn this defense and get that brotherhood bond with the rest of the guys on that defense.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, chandler jones,

Dont’a Hightower’s Thursday night Q&A with the New England media

04.27.12 at 1:31 am ET
By   |   Comments

Here’s the complete transcript of Dont’a Hightower‘s Q&A with the media Thursday night after he was drafted by the Patriots:

Where were you when got the call? “I was in New York. I was with my mom, my sister, my best friend, my girlfriend and a couple other people and my teammates.”

Were you surprised it was the Patriots? “You know, I was on the second one. I thought they might have picked me the first time, but they traded back up the second time and grabbed me, so I’€™m grateful for that.”

Did you work out for them at all and what was that experience like if you did? “No, I did not work out for them.”

You had four sacks last season. Can you talk about your role as a pass rusher in the Alabama defense? “I would come in on third down and put pressure on the quarterback. Depending on down and distance, sometimes I would stand up and drop to be an extra zoner; sometimes we’€™d switch up different roles and have me do some of the other stuff.”

Is that something you think you can do at the next level ‘€“ rush the passer? “I hope so.”

What is it like to be a part of an Alabama defense that had so many first round players together last year? What was that like and how did that help you? “It was a good experience. Growing up with these guys and playing with them for three or four years, it meant a lot and it showed a lot. It shows the caliber that we have as people, as friends, and the caliber of the university that we’€™re putting out as many good players as we are. It has a lot to do with Coach [Nick] Saban, but it has a lot more to do with the way we addressed it.”

A lot of guys who have played for Coach Saban and who have come up here to play in New England say there are some similarities. Do you anticipate any similarities and did Coach Saban talk to you about the Patriots at all? “No, Coach Saban never really talked to me about the Patriots at all.  There are a couple of guys up there in New England that I do know that I’€™ve talked to and said that things are very similar.”

Do you know [Patriots defensive lineman] Brandon Deaderick? Are you close with him? “Yeah, that’€™s one of the guys that I’€™ve talked to.”
Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, Dont'a Hightower,

Winners, losers from first round of NFL draft

04.27.12 at 1:19 am ET
By   |   Comments

With first round of the draft in the books, there’s time the breathe a sigh of relief and take in the hectic night, which featured the quickest first round in history. Now, we take a look at the five winners and losers of Day 1.


1. Bruce Irvin, DE, Seahawks Many teams knew of Irvin’€™s explosive — but raw — pass-rushing skills, with some seeing him as the most talented pass rusher in the draft. However, Irvin had a lot of character concerns coming into the draft, leading some teams to take him off of their boards completely. Mock drafts anticipated him going anywhere between the late first and late second rounds, so his selection at No. 15 wasn’€™t too many picks ahead of where some had him going. What’s surprising is that Irvin was the first edge rusher off the board in what was perceived to be a decent class for the position.

2. Rams — During much of the draft process, the Rams made it clear to other teams that they were looking to trade down from the No. 2 spot and collect as many picks as possible to rebuild their roster. After trading down to No. 6 weeks ago and again to No. 14 on draft day, the Rams have picked up two second-round picks to use on Friday in addition to two future first-round picks. They also grabbed dynamic LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers at No. 14 once they were finished wheeling and dealing.

3. Patriots fans — While a fan base tends to call for a lot of things heading into the draft, there was a near consensus with Pats fans as to what they wanted this year: They wanted Bill Belichick to draft a top-flight pass rusher early on, and they wanted him to stop trading down in the draft and to trade up to get an elite player. Much to their surprise, they got exactly what they wanted.

4. Cowboys — The Cowboys are always an aggressive team on draft day (Jerry Jones‘€™ trade up to No. 6 on Thursday night marked his 59th draft-day trade). However, the move to grab LSU corner Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick was a perfect strike in a draft class that was considered to have six ‘€œelite’€ prospects. The ability to grab one of those six (the Cowboys reportedly had Claiborne as the second-best player on their board) at the last available spot all the way from No. 14 was a great move for the Cowboys, despite having to sacrifice a second-round pick for it.

5. Jets — The Jets had only a few basic needs heading into the draft: a premiere edge rusher and a safety, mainly. In the end, they landed Quinton Coples, possibly the most talented pass-rusher in this draft class, without having to trade up with their choice at safety long off the board. There are questions about Coples’ work ethic and there will always be concerns about a player who is a bit of a head case in that locker room. On the other hand, Rex Ryan having that type of talent at his disposal should be a concern for the Patriots.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick, Bruce Irvin, Jerry Jones
Latest on Twitter
Player News
Patriots Headlines
NFL Headlines
Tips & Feedback