The longtime guru of the Patriots offensive line trusts the process that netted Cole Strange.
Former Patriots offensive-line coach Dante Scarnecchia endorsed Strange as first-round-draft-pick worthy Friday in an interview with the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian. The Patriots shocked the NFL community Thursday night when they chose Strange with the 29th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, with many greeting New England’s selection with howls of derision and outrage.
However, Scarnecchia believes the Patriots did well to meet a glaring need for ready-made O-linemen.
“The thing about him as for any offensive lineman other than tackle, is that it’s not a sexy pick, but it’s one I’m sure they felt they really needed or they wouldn’t have done what they did,” Scarnecchia told Guregian. “I’m sure they felt like they had a hole, they had to fill it, and this is the guy that was best suited to fill it.
“I’ve never seen the guy play, I don’t know anything about him, but they obviously like him enough to do what they did to get him. Now they got nine more picks to hopefully give them the help that they need.”
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Bill Belichick believes Strange will fit into the team well and praised the Chattanooga product’s mix of athleticism and aggression.
Although Scarnecchia, who retired in January 2020 after 34 years as a Patriots assistant, now watches the draft process from afar. Nevertheless the scouting reports on Strange suggest he’d fit the criteria Scarnecchia uses to judge whether an offensive lineman would succeed in the NFL.
“There’s three traits I always look for,” Scarnecchia said. “You have to be smart. … How smart does a guy play? How well does a guy play and how well can he comprehend and then apply (what he’s taught). So that all comes into it.
“Plus, he’s got to be tough. There’s just no compromise on that. Now, there’s levels of that, but there’s not as many levels of it in my estimation. Does this guy really get after people? Is he tough internally, is he tough mentally? I think all of those things come into play. And then he’s got to be athletic enough to play the position. Now this guy (Strange) has supposedly played all five (offensive line) positions. That counts for something.”
Strange already is bonding with Patriots quarterback Mac Jones and he’ll begin doing the same with other teammates and New England coaches, as he sets out to prove Scarnecchia right and the naysayers wrong.