While much of the NFL — including Rams head coach Sean McVay — were stunned by the New England Patriots’ decision to take UT-Chattanooga guard Cole Strange with their first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, it looks like it was all a part of the plan for head coach Bill Belichick.
With the 29th pick in the first round, the Patriots made a move to help bolster their offensive line, hopefully, for years to come. Certainly, not a bad idea as the organization wants to protect and continue to develop starting quarterback Mac Jones into a franchise anchor for the next decade. However, despite a common belief that there were better options available at the time, the team ended up taking Cole Strange. A move that was viewed by many in the league as, well, strange.
On Thursday, the Patriots originally had the 21st pick in the draft but traded the selection to the Kansas City Chiefs for this year’s 29th, 94th, and 121st picks. In a video post that went viral, Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay showed outward shock at the Patriots’ choice during a press conference and suggested his team was looking at taking Strange with their first pick in the NFL Draft, at 104.
New England Patriots considered taking Cole Strange with 21st pick in NFL Draft
However, when asked about the move in a presser following night one of the annual event, the legendary New England Patriots coach said he felt that the 23-year-old guard “wouldn’t have lasted much longer” if they didn’t take him at 29, and he and the team would have likely made the same choice if they had not traded out of the 21st selection.
“Yeah, well, if we had stayed at 21, then we would have obviously picked somebody,” Belichick said. “Probably a good chance it would have been him. I don’t know, 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 as I said, feel like we made the best decision that we could at 21.”
It is hard to question a six-time Super Bowl-winning coach following a strong showing in 2021 where the team finished 10-7 with a rookie as the starting QB. Nevertheless, it was unexpected with players like Nakobe Dean and Bernhard Raimann still on the board. Belichick will get the chance to prove the league wrong, again, in 2022 and beyond.