While most of the NFL’s top draft prospects auditioned at the league’s scouting combine in late February, Tavon Wilson sat in front of a television and watched every repetition. The former All-Met from H.D. Woodson High and the University of Illinois yearned for his own chance to shine in front of scouts and team executives.
By the time the draft rolled around this week, Wilson had made his impression. The defensive back, who played cornerback and safety at Illinois, was selected by the New England Patriots in the second round Friday night, with the 48th overall pick.
“It was definitely motivating” not to be among the 300 players invited to the combine, Wilson said in a conference call with reporters Friday night. “Any time you don’t get into something that you feel like you should be in, you just try [harder]. . . . 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.”
A few minutes after Wilson was drafted, former Wilde Lake linebacker Zach Brown, an honorable mention All-Met in 2006 who played collegiately at North Carolina, was taken by the Tennessee Titans with the 52nd overall pick.
Jayron Hosley, a Virginia Tech cornerback, also was selected Friday night, taken 94th overall by the New York Giants. The Giants previously took Hosley’s Hokie teammate, running back David Wilson, with the final pick of the first round.
According to a report, NFL teams were informed this week that Hosley was one of two players who tested positive for marijuana during a drug test at February’s NFL scouting combine. The report also stated that Hosley had written a letter to NFL teams apologizing for the positive test results.
The draft resumes with its final four rounds Saturday.
Like many of the other prospects drafted Friday, Brown was ready to get on with the next stage of his career. He spent a prep year at Hargrave Military Academy before going to college, where he became a standout for the Tar Heels.
At 6 feet 1 and 244 pounds, he was a semifinalist last season for the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate linebacker. He made 105 tackles (131 / 2 for losses) and tallied 51 / 2 sacks with three interceptions and three forced fumbles.
“I can do a little bit of everything,” Brown said during a conference call Friday night. “I can blitz. I can cover. I can stuff the run. . . . I’m just a linebacker. If you ask me to do something, I can do it.”
Wilson was an All-Met wide receiver in 2007 after catching 48 passes for 958 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also stood out on defense that year, returning two of his nine interceptions for touchdowns and later made his mark on that side of the ball in college.
As a senior, Wilson, who is 6 feet and 205 pounds, made 81 tackles for the Illini. Some analysts projected he would go later in the draft.
“I was hearing a lot of different things, as far as what round and all that stuff,” Wilson said. “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.”