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Patriots.com News Blitz - 5/1/2012

Posted May 1, 2012

Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com writes that former Illinois head coach Ron Zook was not surprised when the Patriots drafted safety Tavon Wilson with the 48th overall pick in the second round of this year's NFL Draft.  Zook, who coached Wilson from 2008-2011, praised his former defensive back and the unique versatility that he brings to the football field.  "I've been with him for four years -- he's played corner, he's played safety, and to me what happened is Coach Belichick and his staff, they just did their homework. They went out there and they found not only a great person, but a guy that's going to come in and (play) for an awful long time in the National Football League," explained Zook.  The ex-Illinois coach also believes Wilson's impact will not only be on defense, but on special teams as well.  "I think one thing that people are going to see is that he's a heck of a lot better player than what they might think," he said. "Because they didn't know a lot about him, there's going to be a lot of question marks, but I promise you, he's going to come in there and he'll show people that he's deserving of the position he was drafted."  Zook, who worked with ESPN and CBS leading up to the draft, had Wilson ranked as the #3 safety on his draft board behind Alabama's Mark Barron and Notre Dame's Harrison Smith.

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com writes that, according to a source, the Patriots will re-sign veteran defensive lineman Gerard Warren.  The 33-year-old veteran played in a reserve role for the Patriots last season and recorded 12 tackles and one sack. 

Shalise Manza Young of The Boston Globe writes that Bill Belichick had plenty of positive things to say about his draft picks during a Monday radio appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio.  During the interview, Belichick compared first-round draft pick Dont'a Hightower to Jerod Mayo and Mike Vrabel.  "Real smart guy; similar to [Jerod] Mayo in terms of leadership and command, being able to run the defense type of thing, but he’s big - he's over 260, somewhere in that range, a big, strong guy that can do some different things or at least did for Alabama. We'll see where he fits in here, but I think he's got some versatility that is different but similar to Mike Vrabel in some respects: playing outside, playing inside, playing down, playing up, that type of thing, where he might have different roles based on what unit we happen to have out there."

Karen Guregian of The Boston Herald reports that undrafted Kentucky wide receiver Matt Roark will be joining the Patriots, according the official Twitter account of the Wildcats' football program.  Roark, a converted quarterback, joins Jeremy Ebert and Julian Edelman as Patriots who have made the change from quarterback to wideout.  In 12 games last season, Roark tallied 36 receptions for 349 yards and one touchdown.  He also tied the record for the most blocked kicks in Kentucky history with seven, and may be a unique fit on special teams.

Christopher Price of WEEI.com breaks down the Patriots' 2012 draft class.  Price believes the player with the best chance of making an immediate impact in 2012 is linebacker Dont'a Hightower.  "Hightower will be the first member of New England's rookie class to see the field on a regular basis and make a serious impact, but don’t look for him to settle into a traditional position," writes Price.  "He could see action on the inside or the outside, provided on whatever defensive look the Patriots are showing at the time. Ultimately, he has a chance to be a very special player very quickly in the New England defense."

Jeff Howe of NESN.com writes that with today's news that WR Jabar Gaffney has been released by the Washington Redskins, the Patriots should reunite with the former-Pat to create competition in training camp.  Howe writes, "Gaffney isn't a diva who needs to be on the field all the time. He'll master his role, block when called upon and, of course, stay in sync with Brady. Gaffney's still got it, too, catching a career-high 68 passes for 947 yards and five touchdowns last season with the Redskins, whose quarterback issues weren't exactly conducive to gaudy stats."

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