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The New England Patriots selection of Cole Strange in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft was so surprising that even Strange himself thought it was a prank.
The New England Patriots are notorious for their unique drafting strategy. It has paid off in the past, with choices like Logan Mankins or Devin McCourty being enigmatic at the time, just to pay off in style. The Pats hope that Cole Strange will eventually be able to join that list as well.
The Pats, led by head coach / GM Bill Belichick, did not surprisingly trade down from No. 21 to No. 29 in the 2022 NFL Draft. Their choice with that choice, however, was surprising as Strange ended up getting off the board much higher than expected.
The election was immediately questioned by many as Strange was considered a day 2 election rather than a day 1 election. Even Strange was surprised by the Patriot’s choice. And when he got the call from New England, he initially thought it was a joke call.
This is how the call went according to Strange’s father, Greg Strange (per Mass Live):
“(Cole) said, ‘Sir, I do not mean to be disrespectful at all, but I have to know it because I have some crazy friends. Is that a joke?’ The guy said, ‘Wait a minute.’ And then Bill Belichick called and of course, unless you’ve been under a rock for the last 20 years, you know Bill Belichick’s voice. As soon as I heard Bill Belichick’s voice, Cole and I both started screaming and hugging and behaving crazy. probably a lot of inappropriate stuff.We were so excited.In his honor you have to love the guy Belichick is sitting there and when we got through, the first break he had he said: ‘Hey Cole, you have to behave , as if you’ve been there, man. ‘
Everyone, including Cole Strange, was surprised that the New England Patriots took him in the first round
The Patriots have a habit of counteracting the trend when it comes to the draft, and although many of their picks this year fell into that category, no one fits the description better than Cole Strange. New England could have taken him very well in the third round. Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay could not help but laugh as New England selected Strange in the middle of his press conference.
Strange believed he would probably go at some point in the second round, so his reaction to being selected at the end of the first, though it was funny, is not super surprising. It was another choice that only the Patriots saw coming at the time.
Although Strange’s choice was certainly not what many had expected, he should be able to fill in immediately for the Patriots in 2022. After switching Shaq Mason away to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to clear some space, Strange should be able to to slide properly. into the vacant left guard post on New England’s offensive line.
Strange is solid in both running and passing protection, and he has great agility to stay ahead of his defender for one of his size. He may not have been a safe first choice, but that does not mean he is not a good prospect.
Given how good Belichick has been at developing offensive linemen throughout his tenure with the Patriots, he would not necessarily be wise to bet against turning Strange into a top-tier lineman.
Although everyone, Strange included, might at first think it was a joke, the Patriots got themselves a solid inner lineman who will help keep their promising second-year quarterback, Mac Jones, upright in his pocket for many seasons to come.