By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — For every Rob Gronkowski, there is a Chad Jackson. For every Jamie Collins, there is a Ron Brace. The New England Patriots’ draft history in the second round, like most teams, has been wildly up-and-down.

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In trading Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals, the Patriots got back another second-round pick, 61st overall, giving them back-to-back picks in the second round at 60 and 61. The selections have the potential to bring great value for the Patriots, but could also bring nothing whatsoever. There is an inherent risk involved with less-than-blue-chip prospects in every draft, but for the Patriots, they’ve hit some eye-popping extremes.

After hitting it out of the park with left tackle Matt Light and wide receiver Deion Branch in 2001 and 2002, the Patriots went on a brutal seven-year run of extracting little to no value from their second-round picks, including no second-rounders at all in 2005 and 2007. It earned the Patriots the label of a team that can’t get it right in that part of the draft, despite frequently trading into it out of the first round.


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However, the tide has turned in recent years. Gronk is an obvious grand slam of a pick, Collins has emerged as one of the league’s elite linebackers, and others have added varying degrees of value. But throw all of Bill Belichick’s second-round picks since becoming Patriots head coach in 2000 into a blender, and you end up with a bland-tasting puree. That’s not to say that Belichick is an average drafter; he’s objectively a good, if inconsistent, personnel guy, and the second round is a microcosm of his drafting track record in New England.

Here’s a full report card of every second-round draft class from 2000 to 2013. It excludes the past two drafts with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (62nd overall in 2014) and safety Jordan Richards (64th in 2015), who still have time to pan out, as well as 2004 when they selected defensive end Marquise Hill, who tragically passed away in a jet ski accident in 2007.

The Elite

Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

2001: LT Matt Light, 48th overall. Light anchored the Patriots offensive line throughout his 11-year NFL career, protecting Tom Brady’s blind side with aplomb and playing with the kind of edge necessary to thrive at that position. He was also relatively durable, missing more than five games only once in his career (a broken leg in 2005 limited him to only 3 games). Oh, and they won three Super Bowls with him manning left tackle. GRADE: A

2002: WR Deion Branch, 65th. Of all of Brady’s most trusted targets, Branch sits at or near the top of the list. Branch’s MVP performance in Super Bowl XXXIX alone made this a home-run selection and by far the best pick Belichick has ever made at the receiver position. GRADE: A

2010: TE Rob Gronkowski (42nd), LB Jermaine Cunningham (53rd), LB Brandon Spikes (62nd). Not much needs to be said here. Gronk has a chance to become the greatest tight end to ever play the game and is by far the best, most complete tight end in football. Even Spikes contributed as a run-stuffing linebacker for a few years. Cunningham could have literally disintegrated at the draft podium and it would have all been worth it, thanks to Gronk. GRADE: A

2013: LB Jamie Collins (52nd), WR Aaron Dobson (59th). Collins came out of the draft as one of the most athletic linebackers in the 2013 class; he enters his fourth NFL season in 2016 as one of the best linebackers in football, period. The Patriots traded out of the first round this year, which has turned out to be a savvy move for Belichick. Dobson may not live up to his potential, but showed flashes of his ability in his rookie year and may still have a chance to develop into a reliable target for Brady. GRADE: A

The Ehhh

Shane Vereen of the New England Patriots (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Shane Vereen of the New England Patriots (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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2003: S Eugene Wilson (36th), WR Bethel Johnson (45th). Wilson may not have been a game-changer at the safety position, but was a key contributor in the secondary alongside Rodney Harrison, starting in 29 of 31 games and winning two Super Bowls with the dominant 2003 and 2004 Patriots defenses. Johnson, meanwhile, never panned out as a receiver, but used his speed effectively as a kick returner for four years. GRADE: C

2009: S Patrick Chung (34th), DT Ron Brace (40th), CB Darius Butler (41st), RT Sebastian Vollmer (58th). The Patriots get a check mark on Vollmer, who has been one of the better right tackles in football when healthy. Chung and Butler are interesting cases … Butler was an utter bust in New England but is one of the rare Belichick draft picks to find success elsewhere as a corner for the Indianapolis Colts; Chung, meanwhile, looked like a bust in his first stint with the Patriots but has developed into a fine all-around safety since returning to Foxboro. Brace, a complete zero of a pick, unfortunately drags the whole group down and is one of the poster children for critics of Belichick’s propensity to trade out of the first round. GRADE: C

2011: CB Ras-I Dowling (33rd), RB Shane Vereen (56). Dowling is arguably the symbol of the Patriots secondary as it struggled to get out from the bottom of the league for several years. Barely ever seeing the field and suffering multiple injuries, Dowling gets a big fat 0. Vereen, on the other hand, took some time to develop but ended up delivering a “worth every penny” performance with 11 catches in Super Bowl XLIX, a record for a running back in the big game. GRADE: B

The Ewww

(R-L) Tom Brady and Chad Jackson of the New England Patriots (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

(R-L) Tom Brady and Chad Jackson of the New England Patriots (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

2000: G Adrian Klemm (46th). Just 26 games played and 10 starts in five seasons with the Patriots. ‘Nuff said. GRADE: F

2006: WR Chad Jackson (36th). Not only did Jackson never pan out, the Patriots selected him over receivers that went on to have good careers like Brandon Marshall, Greg Jennings, and Marques Colston. In fairness, most teams passed on those guys, but still. Chad Jackson. GRADE: F

2008: CB Terrence Wheatley (62nd). Woof. Just 11 games and one start in two seasons in New England, and couldn’t even stick in Jacksonville or Tennessee. GRADE: F

2012: S Tavon Wilson (48th). A questionable pick almost instantaneously, Wilson wasn’t even on a lot of analysts’ draft boards. It wasn’t the first reach Belichick ever made in the second round, but it turned out to be a gross over-draft nonetheless. After a somewhat promising rookie season, Wilson could barely see the field and is now joins the Detroit Lions as a Patriots castoff. GRADE: D

Final Exam

Based on my completely arbitrary grading system (A=95, B=85, C=75, D=65, F=55), the collective of second-round draft classes for the Patriots averages out to about a 76, or a C. For a team with a handful of massive hits to go along with plenty of whiffs, that sounds about right. But, considering Belichick’s ability to find talents the caliber of Gronk in the second round, there’s no reason not to be confident he can do it again.

The Patriots’ two 2016 second-round picks, assuming they use them, could be the next Gronk or the next nobody. And it could be years before you find out where they were on the roller coaster.

This article was updated to correct inaccurate information regarding Marquise Hill.

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Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.