The New England Patriots’ decision to pick interior offensive lineman Cole Strange with the 29th overall selection in the draft on Thursday night raised quite a few eyebrows. The Chattanooga product, after all, was projected as a third-round pick heading into the draft.
So, why didn’t the Patriots go in another direction and just wait to pick Strange up with one of their Day 2 selections? Because it seems he might not have been around long enough.
“Yeah, he wouldn’t have lasted much longer,” Patriots head coach/general manager Bill Belichick said about Strange during his post-draft media conference call.
Obviously, there is an oftentimes starkly pronounced contrast between how the NFL evaluates players and how those on the outside view them. Strange might have been rated as a mid-round talent on big boards all over the media landscape, but the league’s evaluation of him could have been a massively different one.
At least as far as the Patriots are concerned that appears to be the case. And apparently, they believed that they were not the only ones seriously going after Strange at this point in the draft.
It is not hard to see why: he was one of the better interior linemen available, and a plug-and-play starter at the guard position. Accordingly, he was also in play at the 21st overall pick before the Patriots ultimately decided to trade it to Kansas City.
“If we had stayed at 21, then we would have obviously picked somebody. Probably a good chance it would have been him,” Belichick said.
“There were several teams that we talked to prior to when we made the trade. There were some other conversations going on there, but ultimately that’s the one we chose. Glad Cole was there when we picked, and I feel like we made the best decision that we could at 21.”
Eight picks later, the Patriots made another such decision — albeit a significantly more polarizing one. That said, Belichick and company are not drafting to win popularity contests but rather to improve their roster.
Adding Strange does that, and fills a major need along the interior O-line.
“He’s long, he’s athletic. He’s physically tough. He’s an aggressive player,” Belichick said about the 23-year-old.
“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. But I think he has a good skill set, and he’s a smart player that makes a lot of good decisions on the interior line there, timing, when to come off, and combo blocks, things like that.”
How would you grade the Patriots’ selection of OL Cole Strange at No. 29?
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