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‘Small’ number of NFL teams viewed New England Patriots’ Cole Strange as 2nd round talent

Matt Johnson
New England Patriots, Cole Strange
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots shocked the football world in the 2022 NFL Draft by selecting guard Cole Strange with the 29th overall pick. While many have been proven wrong before when questioning Belichick’s decision-making, teams around the NFL are still left baffled by the selection.

Holding the 21st overall pick, most mock drafts projected the Patriots would select a cornerback. Instead, Belichick swung a draft-night deal with the Kansas City Chiefs to slide down to the 29th spot and pick up third- and fourth-round picks.

Once the Patriots were on the clock, the expectation was defensive back Daxton Hill might be the perfect piece to address a need in the secondary. Instead, Belichick snagged the interior offensive lineman out of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

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Because of it, the Patriots were labeled losers in Round 1. Drafting an interior lineman with a first-round pick just months after trading Shaq Mason to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a fifth-round pick seemed like a baffling decision. It seems many in the NFL felt the same way.

As part of his weekly mailbag, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated shared that no other NFL team he spoke with viewed Strange as a first-round talent. In fact, only a few clubs even thought he was worth picking in the second round.

“No one was taking Strange in the first round, and I think the number of teams that had him in the second round was relatively small. Most that I talked to—and remember, it’s important for teams to understand how the league as a whole views these guys—believed he’d be a late-second-rounder at best, and probably a third-rounder. So they probably could’ve gotten him at 54. “

Albert Breer on how NFL teams viewed New England Patriots first-round pick Cole Strange

Belichick, who has won six Super Bowl rings as a head coach, does have a history of being proven right when others think he made the wrong decision. However, many of his recent draft selections – N’Keal Harry (32nd pick in 2019), Joejuan Williams (45th pick in 2019) and Josh Uche (60th pick in 2020 – haven’t exactly worked out.

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It’s possible Belichick is proven right and Strange becomes an integral part of the Patriots’ offensive line becoming a dominant force in the years to come. If he’s wrong and New England falls short of expectations, it might be time to begin discussing whether or not Belichick should lose some power in the draft room.