Patriots' second-round draft picks under Bill Belichick run the gamut
Bill Belichick has done a masterful job sustaining the New England Patriots' success over two decades.
But if he has a kryptonite, it's drafting quality players in the second round of the NFL Draft.
The Patriots cut bait with cornerback Duke Dawson on Friday, shipping the 2018 second-round pick to the Denver Broncos while moving up a round in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Dawson's trade the earliest Belichick has moved on from a first- or second-round pick since he came to New England in 2000.
It's also a reminder of Belichick's roller-coaster track record in the second round, where he found a Super Bowl MVP (Deion Branch) and the greatest tight end of all time (Rob Gronkowski) in addition to a massive wide receiver bust (Chad Jackson) and a cornerback who didn't appear in a single game (Dawson).
So, strap in and enjoy the ride as we take you through Belichick's history with picks No. 33 through No. 64 between 2000 and 2019.
2000: Adrian Klemm, G, No. 46 overall
2001: Matt Light, LT, No. 48 overall
The Patriots took another swing at a second-round offensive lineman in Belichick's second season -- and nailed it. A pillar of the team's three Super Bowl wins in 2001, 2003 and 2004, Light helped the Patriots to five Super Bowls in all, protecting Tom Brady's blindside through 2011. An intelligent, tough, winning player who had the ability to bring levity to the locker room, Light is one of the most important individuals to pass through Foxboro in the last 20 years.
2002: Deion Branch, WR, No. 65 overall
Another home-run second-rounder, Branch was New England's best receiver on back-to-back Super Bowl-winning clubs. He caught 10 balls for 143 yards against the Panthers, and the following season he tallied 133 yards on 11 grabs to earn MVP honors. A contract dispute in 2006 led to Branch's departure -- it also led to a dearth of capable receivers on that year's roster -- but he returned in 2010 and quickly re-established his chemistry with Brady, averaging about four catches and 54 yards per game over the next season-and-a-half.
2003: Eugene Wilson, FS, No. 36 overall
It would've been difficult to imagine a better start to a career than the one the 5-10, 195-pounder out of Illinois turned in. He ended up starting 45 games in his first three seasons, picking off nine passes and winning two Super Bowls while playing alongside Rodney Harrison. His next two seasons were marred by injuries, and in 2008 he signed with the Texans to play out the final three seasons of his career.
2003: Bethel Johnson, WR, No. 45 overall
The 5-11 speedster out of Texas A&M was seen as a potential deep threat for Brady and an elusive return specialist. He was a big-play threat as a return man, taking back kicks for touchdowns in 2003 and 2004, but in three seasons with the Patriots, he caught just 30 passes.
2004: Marquise Hill, DE, No. 63 overall
The LSU product played 13 games in his three seasons with the Patriots. Tragically, Hill died in a jet-ski accident before the 2007 season. That year Patriots players wore Hill's No. 91 on the backs of their helmets on their way to a perfect regular-season record.
2006: Chad Jackson, WR, No. 36 overall
An athletic play-making receiver at the University of Florida, Jackson declared he would enter the NFL draft early after making 88 catches for 900 yards as a junior. The promise he showed in college, however, never came to fruition. He made just 13 catches as a rookie, and he played in only two games without making a single catch in 2007. He was released before the start of the 2008 season.
2008: Terrence Wheatley, CB, No. 62 overall
A two-time first team All-Big 12 selection at Colorado, Wheatley played in 11 games in two years with the Patriots, starting one. In 2010, an injury forced him to miss the start of the season, and he was eventually released mid-year.
2009: Patrick Chung, DB, No. 34 overall
The Patriots would've loved for the former Oregon Duck's first go-round with the team to be as productive as his second. He's played at a near Pro Bowl level over the last two seasons, specializing as a box safety who thrives against the run and in covering tight ends and receivers in the slot. In his first four seasons with the Patriots, Chung played in 50 games and started in 30, but he struggled at times when asked to patrol the deep part of the field.
2009: Ron Brace, DT, No. 40 overall
The 6-3, 330-pounder out of Boston College had his best season in 2010 when he played in 13 games and started in five. Otherwise, he served as a reserve defensive tackle who played in his final regular-season game in 2012.
2009: Darius Butler, CB, No. 41 overall
The speedy corner from UConn played in all but three games in his first two seasons in New England, but he was waived before the start of his third. He played with the Panthers in 2011 and has since landed in Indianapolis where he’s established himself as their top nickel corner.
2009: Sebastian Vollmer, OT, No. 58 overall
When healthy, Vollmer has been one of the most effective right tackles in the league since he was drafted out of the University of Houston. He started in eight games as a rookie, and since his sophomore season, he's started in 72 of the 74 games in which he's played.
2010: Rob Gronkowski, TE, No. 42 overall
The most dominating tight end in the game was a gamble coming out of Arizona. He had back injuries that forced him to miss his entire junior season, but the Patriots thought he was worth the risk 10 picks into the second round. Even after Gronkowski's retirement following nine NFL seasons, they've never been more right.
2010: Jermaine Cunningham, LB, No. 53 overall
This one didn't go quite as well. Drafted as a 6-2, 250-pound outside linebacker out of Florida, the Urban Meyer pupil finished with 3.5 sacks in three seasons with the Patriots. He was cut before the start of the 2013 season.
2010: Brandon Spikes, LB, No. 62 overall
The Patriots doubled-up on Gators nine picks after selecting Cunningham. Spikes gave the Patriots a hard-hitting, run-stuffing presence for four seasons, but as defensive schemes skewed more toward stopping opposing passing games, his skill set became less relevant.
2011: Ras-I Dowling, CB, No. 33 overall
Taken with the first pick of the second round, Dowling had all the traits to become a highly-effective boundary corner. The University of Virginia product came into the league with injury concerns that proved to be his downfall with the Patriots. He started in his first two games as a rookie, then injured his hip and ended up on injured reserve. A thigh injury ruined his second season, and he was released before the start of the 2013 campaign.
2011: Shane Vereen, RB, No. 56 overall
The pass-catching running back out of Cal had his best season with the Patriots in his fourth and final year with the team, reeling in what was then a career-high 52 passes for 447 yards. In Super Bowl XLIX, he gashed the Seahawks for 11 receptions and 64 yards.
2012: Tavon Wilson, DB, No. 48 overall
The 6-foot, 205-pounder from Illinois took many by surprise when the Patriots made him their second-round pick. He made four interceptions in his rookie season, but he eventually found a more consistent role as a core special teamer. Dependable and a good influence in the locker room, Wilson played in all but three games in his first three seasons. He was repeatedly made a healthy scratch in 2015, playing in nine regular season games.
2013: Jamie Collins, LB, No. 52 overall
It was unclear what position Collins would play when he entered the draft, and his win-loss record while at Southern Mississippi was a bit of a concern. But as the 2013 draft approached, Collins was clearly one of the best athletes available, and his versatility was viewed as a positive. The Patriots have been rewarded many times over for trading out of the first round and eventually taking Collins where they did. In Belichick's defense, Collins has improved over each of his three seasons, and he made a Pro Bowl for the first time in 2015.
2013: Aaron Dobson, WR, No. 59 overall
A talented basketball player with the size (6-3, 210) and speed to serve as a legitimate deep threat in the NFL, Dobson has faded since his rookie season. He posted one of the best seasons of any Patriots first-year receiver when he caught 37 passes for 519 yards and four touchdowns. Since then, he's dealt with injuries that have limited him to 16 catches over 12 games in the last two years.
2014: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, No. 62 overall
"We know what Tom's age and contract situation is," Belichick told reporters after selecting Garoppolo out of Eastern Illinois. Were the Patriots getting ready for life after Tom Brady? Were they looking to motivate Brady after what would be considered a sub-par season by Brady's standards in 2013? Either way, Brady outlasted Garoppolo in New England, with the Patriots shipping Jimmy G to San Francisco on Halloween Day in 2017. Garoppolo parlayed a strong finish to the 2017 season into a $137.5M contract, while Brady has led the Patriots to the Super Bowl in both seasons since the trade.
2015: Jordan Richards, DB, No. 64 overall
The Stanford safety contributed primarily as a special-teamer in his first professional season. It appears as though the Patriots will have a relatively crowded top of the depth chart at the safety position once again in 2016 with Devin McCourty, Chung and Duron Harmon likely filling the top three spots.
2016: Cyrus Jones, CB, No. 60 overall
Jones came in with lofty expectations after helping Alabama win two national titles. He fell flat in New England, though, fumbling five times as a rookie return specialist and missing the entire 2017 season with a torn ACL. The Baltimore Ravens claimed him off waivers in October 2018.
2018: Duke Dawson, CB, No. 56 overall
The Florida product goes down as one of Belichick's bigger misses. He didn't play in a single game for New England after missing his rookie season with a hamstring injury and failed to distinguish himself at 2019 training camp in a crowded cornerback group.