April 27, 2003
Pats Add Speed In 2nd Round
BY: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
FOXBORO, MA --- In the second round of the 2003 Draft on Saturday, Bill Belichick added some much needed speed to both sides of the football.
His first addition came when the Patriots selected cornerback Eugene Wilson with their first pick of the 2nd round.
Wilson is 5'10 5/8" and weighs in at 187lbs. He also runs a 4.49 40-yard dash.
According to Belichick Wilson will be used on special teams in the kicking game and on coverage units. He also has excellent hands and catches the ball very well.
"We've seen examples of him doing a number of different things at the corner position," Belichick told the media on Saturday. "Press coverage, off coverage, man-to-man, zone and so forth. We think that he's going to be a good addition to our secondary."
As for Wilson he wasn't the least bit surprised when his phone rang and he found out he was going to be a Patriot.
"[The Patriots] were at my Pro Day and they came out for a private workout and I also took a visit out there. It wasn't a surprise at all getting picked by them," said Wilson in a conference call on Saturday. "I just got the call when they decided to pick me and they just called and congratulated me on being a Patriot and told me I was one of them now."
"They were the first ones to contact me and that was the place to be."
Wilson had an impressive career in Illinois, recording 176 tackles (139 solos) with an 11-yard sack and four stops behind the line of scrimmage in 45 games. His 11 interceptions rank sixth on the school's all-time list, while his 60 pass deflections shattered the previous Illinois record of 26 by Bobby Jackson (1997-2001), Marlon Primous (1988-91) and Robert Crumpton (1991-94).
He's also an excellent kick returner, returning 93 punts (second all-time) for a school-record 896 yards (9.6 average) and a pair of touchdowns.
Meanwhile the Patriots selected Texas A&M wide receiver Bethel Johnson with their next selection in the second round (45th overall).
One of the things that impressed Belichick the most is Johnson's speed for his size. The 5'11", 201-pound receiver runs an impressive 4.37 40-time, one of the fastest in the draft.
"He's fast, he's explosive, he's a good special teams player, and he's got some football in front of him," said Belichick. "I think that there's certainly some technique development that Bethel like any young player could absorb coming in here, but he's got a couple of things that you just can't teach."
"He's 200lbs, he's very fast, he's very explosive, he's a big time run after catch guy. He's certainly got some developing to do, but he's got some skills that not many other guys possess in terms of rare speed."
Belichick feels that Johnson has the ability to stretch the field and potentially become a deep threat in New England's offense.
Johnson seems to believe he can fill that role.
"I feel like I can provide that," Johnson told the media in a conference call on Saturday. "We just have to see what they want to do with me."
"I have to come in and learn from the [veterans] and take in what they teach me and just learn my role and play my position well, wherever they put me."
VINATIERI HAS JOB SECURITY
Belichick left the door wide open for New England to address virtually any position with their remaining seven picks on Sunday.
Except of course for taking a kicker.
"I'd say at this point [we'd take a player] at any position, other than kicker," said Belichick. "I doubt that we're going to draft a kicker tomorrow." New England has two fourth round picks (117th, 128th overall), two fifth round picks (154th, 157th overall), and three seventh round picks (225th, 234th, and 239th overall) remaining in the final rounds of the draft.
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