Patriots Fans Will Love NFL Evaluator’s Cole Strange Comparison

The next Joe Thuney?

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All of the consternation over the Patriots’ decision to trade back and select Chattanooga guard Cole Strange with the 29th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft ultimately might prove foolish.

Sure, Bill Belichick went off the board to nab Strange at the end of the first round. But one NFL talent evaluator believes New England just bolstered its offensive line in a big way, even pointing to a former Patriots standout in assessing Strange’s potential.

“He has unbelievable feet, his angles and technique are flawless, and I think he would have a high second-round grade,” the evaluator told The Athletic. “He can get a little stronger. The rest, he has already got. Just an excellent lineman in space. He is Joe Thuney-like and can become a great left guard with the feet to play center. New England now has power on the right side of its line and good feet on the left.”

It would be a boon for the Patriots if Strange develops into the type of player Thuney was during his five seasons in New England. Thuney, a third-round pick in 2016, was a stalwart along New England’s O-line, starting every game of his Patriots tenure and earning Second-Team All-Pro honors for the 2019 season.

The Patriots placed the franchise tag on Thuney for the 2020 campaign, which marked his final season in Foxboro before signing a five-year, $80 million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. The North Carolina State product won two Super Bowl titles with the Pats. Not a bad return on the draft capital used.

Of course, it’s fair to question whether the Patriots should’ve used their first-round pick this year on a more glaring need. New England, after all, has several holes on its roster, with speed potentially being an issue on both sides of the ball.

But perhaps everyone — including Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead — was too quick to laugh off the Strange pick. The Patriots have had success drafting offensive linemen, including Thuney, and Strange clearly has the makeup to be a solid contributor.

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