Tavon Wilson, SS/CB, Illinois

Scouting reports of the safeties in the 2012 Draft.
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Tavon Wilson, SS/CB, Illinois

Postby Pudge » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:01 pm

Illinois Senior
40: 4.53


Has nice speed and good closing burst on the ball when working against the run. Is active and willing in run support. Does a nice job making stops on the edge. Is a capable open-field tackler, able to break down, wrap up, and drive through the tackle. When working at safety, can come up and fill running lanes. Will shoot gaps as a run defender and cut the legs of the back in the hole. Also shows good burst upfield when working as a blitzer off the corner. Has enough speed to run with tight ends down the seam and has OK hips to match up with them.


Lacks the hips and burst to really match up with wideouts and stick with them in man coverage. Doesn't play with good balance or technique, tending to slide rather than backpedal. Tends to open his hips too early or too late, leading to wideouts separating easily and/or him giving up too much cushion. Slow to react to plays in front of him, such as screens. Too often gets caught out of position in coverage, not showing great awareness in zone as he can get sucked up by the receivers underneath. Struggles to turn and locate the ball when working in man coverage and he has his back to the throw. Can get struck in trash and can be tentative taking on blockers at the point of attack. Not a great tackler as he'll tackle too high at times in space.


Wilson played mostly corner while at Illinois, but did work as a strong safety due to injuries as a junior. He did start 1 game this past year at strong safety, and in certain packages played their in their regular defense. He's a more natural safety than a corner. He lacks the tools to really match up in man coverage, and is not a great zone cover safety. He's really just a run-defender that isn't great there, but solid.


(11/12) vs. Michigan: 1 stuff, 1 pressure, 1 FR; 1 target, 1 rec., 15 yds, 0 YAC, 0 TDS, 1 INT
(12/31) vs. UCLA: 1 TFL, 1 stuff; 3 tgt., 1 rec., 16 yds, 0 YAC, 1 TD


2011: 13 GP/12 GS, 81 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, 1.0 sacks, 1 INT, 5 PD, 1 FF, 2 FR
2010: 13/13-48-2.0-0.0-1-7-0-2
2009: 12/12-74-3.5-0.0-1-6-0-0
2008: 11/0-11-0.0-0.0-0-1-0-0


Wilson is a nice athletic tweener that just doesn't seem to possess the skills and awareness in coverage to think he really stands much of a chance there. Perhaps in a Cover-2 scheme, he might be able to get by because he's a solid run defender. But even then, he's a career backup that is likely to get exposed if/when he gets extended minutes. Instead, he's a player that is better suited to playing safety. Again, his lack of ideal awareness in zone will limit his potential there. But if he can add a little bit more muscle, get up to like 215 or so and play on special teams, he is good enough to stick on an NFL roster. He has the ability and potential to be a productive special teams player, so I think he stands a decent chance of sticking on an NFL roster right away. But if not, then there is very little value for him. Unless he becomes an ace special teams player for some team, then he'll be hard-pressed to stick beyond his rookie contract. He could get better in zone coverage, to a point where he's comfortable in a scheme where he won't make a ton of mistakes. But he's not a playmaker, and he'll only be good enough to be an average stopgap for a game or two. But with more reps than that, he'll likely get exposed. I think he'll be putting himself in his best position to play at the next level if he was to add another 10 pounds of muscle, and hope that some team will like his special teams ability enough to keep him as a reserve strong safety.


Wilson could push for depth since the Falcons really only have three safeties ready to produce at the NFL level and need a backup strong safety. Since Wilson should be able to produce on special teams, he's good enough to make the Falcons roster as the No. 4 or 5 guy. But you don't really want him to be higher than fifth on the depth because he's not ready to play, and probably won't be for at least another two years before you'd be comfortable with him playing extended reps for more than a game or two. So more than likely, he'll probably be a practice squad candidate that could push for a depth spot on the Falcons a year or two down the road.


Wilson isn't worth drafting because of his very limited upside to play on regular defense. But because he adds depth and value on special teams, he could be a nice undrafted free agency find for a team trying to bolster competition in camp.

1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite

Speed: 7.0
Tackling: 6.5
Man Coverage: 3.0
Zone Coverage: 3.5
Ball Skills: 3.5
Range: 5.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.

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