Is Adrian Wilson biggest safety Patriots have ever had?
|05.07.13 at 1:57 pm ET|
A Twitter conversation regarding safety Adrian Wilson with a few followers Tuesday afternoon sparked this question: Is Wilson the biggest safety the Patriots have ever had — or, at least, the biggest safety the Patriots have signed since Bill Belichick became coach?
The 33-year-old Wilson is a 6-foot-3, 230-pounder who is the biggest defensive back currently on the New England roster. Nicknamed “The Incredible Hulk” by his new teammates, he brings a more physical presence to the Patriots secondary. But to give you some sort of idea as to just how big a guy he is, consider the fact that he compares favorably not with the defensive backs, but with the linebackers. Dane Fletcher is 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds, while Jerod Mayo is 6-foot-1 and 250 pounds, Dont’a Hightower is 6-foot-2 and 270 pounds and Brandon Spikes is 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds.
A quick check of some old rosters reveals that, at least when it comes to defensive backs, Wilson is the biggest the Patriots have acquired since Belichick became coach before the 2000 season. However, there are a few guys who have come close. Tank Williams, who was in Foxboro for parts of two seasons (2008 and 2009) but never was 100 percent because of a knee injury, was probably closest in terms of size to Wilson, as the former Stanford product checked in at 6-foot-2 and 223 pounds. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Josh Barrett was a safety out of Arizona State who had similar struggles with injury — he played just one season with New England (2011). And safety Brandon McGowan, who spent the 2009 season with the Patriots and made a name as a fearless hitter, was 5-foot-11 and 210 pounds.
(For what it’s worth, in his playing days Rodney Harrison was 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, and Tebucky Jones, who was taken in the first round by the Patriots in 1998, was 6-foot-2, 220.)
The feeling here is that Wilson — like many of the oversized safeties who have come through Foxboro in years past — projects as something of a hybrid defender. The spot, more commonly defined as the ‘money’ position on the New England defense, works as an extra defensive back on passing downs in place of a linebacker, and is also plays close enough to the line to provide support in the running game as well as an occasional rep as a pass-rusher. (For more on the background of the “money” position and how it relates to a Belichick defense, click here.)