There appeared to be no hesitation from Bill Belichick when he pulled the trigger on the New England Patriots’ first 2022 draft pick.
The Patriots on Friday released a behind-the-scenes war room video showing Belichick selecting Chatanooga offensive lineman Cole Strange at No. 29 overall.
Immediately after one of Belichick’s lieutenants informed him that the Patriots were on the clock, the head coach replied: “All right, give it to them.”
That scene tracks with what Belichick told reporters after Round 1. Though Strange was widely viewed as a second- or third-round prospect, Belichick said the Patriots didn’t believe he’d be available for much longer and likely would have chosen him at their original slot, No. 21, if they hadn’t traded down to acquire additional picks in the third and fourth round (Nos. 94 and 121).
“Yeah, he wouldn’t have lasted much longer,” Belichick said in a virtual news conference.
Forty-two of Strange’s 44 starts at Chatanooga came at left guard, and he projects as a Day 1 starter there for the Patriots, who lost top guards Ted Karras and Shaq Mason this offseason. The 23-year-old is one of the most athletic offensive linemen in this year’s draft class and acquitted himself well against top-tier competition at the 2022 Senior Bowl.
“He’s long. He’s athletic. He’s physically tough. He’s an aggressive player,” Belichick said. “I think he has a good combination of skills, run and pass, movement, length, strength, again, all of which will hopefully get better, like they will with any player coming from college to the National Football League. …
“Cole fits well into our team and our system, and we obviously think he’s a good player.”
The team-released video also provided a peek at Belichick’s draft-night inner circle, which still prominently features Matt Patricia despite his new offensive coaching responsibilities. Director of player personnel Matt Groh, director of scouting Eliot Wolf, pro scouting director Steve Cargile, college scouting director Camren Williams were in the room, as well, as was team owner Robert Kraft, who praised Strange for being voted a team captain in his final collegiate season.
“That tells me you have good interpersonal skills, and that’s great,” Kraft told his team’s newest draftee.
The Patriots enter Day 2 of the draft with three picks on Friday night (one second-rounder and two thirds) and six more on Saturday.