NFL Personnel Exec Offers Opinion On Patriots Drafting Cole Strange

'Definitely a starter'


Apr 29, 2022

Some people have criticized Bill Belichick and the Patriots for using a first-round pick on Cole Strange, a player some viewed as a third-round pick. New England on Thursday traded down from No. 21 to select the Chattanooga interior offensive lineman with the 29th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Fair or not, the Patriots are going to get killed by talking heads who thought they should’ve targeted a player at a skill position. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone around the NFL with a bad thing to say about Strange, specifically.

Louis Riddick raved about the 6-foot-5, 307-pounder during ESPN’s draft coverage. Mel Kiper compared Strange, who could play center or guard in the pros, to Patriots great Logan Mankins. His college coach said he likes to “hurt folks” — a good thing, in this case. Though you could view his reaction as a bad look for the Patriots, Sean McVay clearly thinks very highly of Strange. Most importantly, Bill Belichick praised his new offensive lineman during a post-draft Zoom call.

And, while speaking with on Friday, an NFC personnel executive offered a similarly positive review of Strange.

“We liked him a lot,” the executive said. “Saw him more as a Day 2 guy but he’s definitely a starter in our league at center/guard. Smart, tough and great kid.”

None of this is to say the Patriots made a bulletproof move Thursday night. Strange was ranked 73rd overall in Dane Brugler’s massive NFL draft guide, coming in fourth among all centers. Other draft boards have Strange listed as a guard, the position he likely will play in New England in the immediate future.

Brugler wrote this of Strange in his draft summary:

Overall, Strange struggles to recover once defenders gain the upper hand, but he works hard to stay balanced with his quick feet, strong hands and competitive toughness. He will be ready to compete for an NFL starting job (guard or center) in year one.

More than anything, you could make a case that New England would’ve been able to land Strange later in the draft, instead using its first-round pick to address a need at a skill position. For what it’s worth, Belichick on Thursday night said Strange likely wouldn’t have lasted long after the 29th pick, and an NFL source told Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal that Strange wouldn’t have made it out of the second round.

So, while Strange might not be as intriguing of a player as, say, Jameson Williams, if he turns into the next Joe Thuney, the decision will be easier to justify.

And, if nothing else, Strange seems destined to become a Patriots fan favorite. His self-scouting report is sure to go over well in New England.

“My playing style is aggressive and relentless,” he said during a post-draft conference call. ” … Trying to play nasty, which is the way I think the game of football is supposed to be played.”

Thumbnail photo via Vasha Hunt/USA TODAY Sports Images
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