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Another Belichick second-round miss?

4/29/2012

Perhaps no other AFC East pick in the 2012 draft was more controversial than the New England Patriots’ selection of little-known defensive back Tavon Wilson of Illinois. Wilson, New England’s second-round pick, was the 24th rated safety by Scouts Inc. and wasn’t even invited to the NFL combine.

This was viewed as a major reach by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who vehemently defended the pick. But looking deeper, Belichick's track record in the second round has been questionable for the past 10 drafts.

Here’s a look at Belichick’s picks in the second round since 2003:

2011: CB Ras-I Dowling and RB Shane Vereen

2010: LB Jermaine Cunningham, TE Rob Gronkowski, LB Brandon Spikes

2009: CB Darius Butler, S Pat Chung, DT Ron Brace, OT Sebastian Vollmer

2008: CB Terrence Wheatley

2006: WR Chad Jackson

2004: DE Marquise Hill

2003: S Eugene Wilson and WR Bethel Johnson

Of this group, Gronkowski and Vollmer are definite hits. Spikes and Chung have potential but need to prove they can stay healthy for a full season.

For the second round, two stud players in 14 picks (14.3 percent) is a low success rate. If you’re generous and include Chung and Spikes, that’s still only 28.5 percent.

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com wrote a good column this weekend that Belichick should be trusted with the pick of Wilson. But history shows Belichick struggles in the second round, particularly with defensive backs. Butler and Wheatley were recent busts. Dowling didn't play last season and gets a chance to show what he can do this year.

Belichick may fool everyone with the Wilson pick. A player who was on no one’s radar could turn out to be a rookie contributor or starter in New England’s defense, which was ranked No. 31 last season.

But history suggests this could be another second-round whiff by Belichick. The pressure is on Wilson to change that trend.