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Patriots make surprising Friday picks

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By Kevin Fishbain

The Patriots had needs at pass rusher and safety, and they addressed both on Day Two of the draft.

But raise your hand if you expected the names to address those needs to be Tavon Wilson and Jake Bequette.

That’s what I thought.

Bill Belichick went completely off the board in the second round, taking Wilson, a free safety out of Illinois. Wilson was a late-rising safety talent and has tools that indicate he can develop into a contributor on the back end (physically and mentally tough, reads and reacts quickly), but with plenty of other safeties on the board, the pick was quite the head scratcher.

Bequette wasn’t nearly the reach Wilson was, but again, there were likely better edge rushers on the board. The only board that matters in Foxborough, though, is Belichick’s.

Focusing on Bequette, he had his hand in the dirt at the Senior Bowl and has the type of versatility that Belichick values in his defensive players. According to PFW’s Nolan Nawrocki, Bequette “gets off the ball quickly and can turn the corner if he gets a step. Good closing burst.” That’s the type of player the Pats need in the front seven, especially with pass rushers Mark Anderson and Andre Carter gone from last year. (Carter remains a free agent and could theoretically re-sign down the line with New England if he proves he is healthy.)

Nawrocki also wrote that Bequette could be in “for a rude awakening vs. NFL tackles,” so there are plenty of questions about Bequette — though not as many as there are about Wilson.

The Patriots’ first four picks were on defense, and they have one pick on Saturday, which could be a running back, receiver or O-lineman. The Pats continued to try to improve the defense, but their Friday picks certainly do not instill the same confidence that Thursday night’s selections of Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower did.

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