Did the New England Patriots outsmart everyone with their selection of Cole Strange in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft?
The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft wasn’t without its surprises, especially when the trades starting rolling in after the first 10 picks. The wide receiver mania was insane, but there were other picks in the first round that had many scratching their head.
One of those was the New England Patriots moving back from 21 to 29 in a trade with the Chiefs, only to select Chattanooga offensive lineman Cole Strange.
The Patriots were often mocked a linebacker or corner in the first round, especially since J.C. Jackson left for the Chargers in free agency. Many who cover the Patriots talked about the possibility of going guard in the first round (like Zion Johnson) but made a good point that selecting a guard that early would have had the feel of a “the team is set pretty much everywhere”.
But that isn’t the case. Their wide receiver room got a bit of a boost with DeVante Parker and second round pick Tyquan Thornton, but the secondary still remains a big question mark. In an AFC that has demigods at quarterback and high-powered offenses, the Patriots don’t feel like they are a guard away.
Now, as to the pick itself, the Patriots obviously had a need there. They traded away Shaq Mason to the Buccaneers for a fifth-round pick, and Strange could come in and start right away. Strange has active hands, he’s quick to recover in pass pro, and his vision is very good, as he leaves double teams to pick up late blitzing defenders. He has the quicks and movement skills in the run game and showed off his impressive anchor down at the Senior Bowl.
The 2022 NFL Draft was one where many felt like the value was between picks 25 and 75, where a lot of potential early starters had good value. Also, as has often been talked about, once the draft reaches that point, there’s not really a “wait and see” mentality with some of the top players on a team’s board. They’re going to get the guy they want, especially because of the heavy interest in interior offensive linemen in this class.
If Bill Belichick and the Patriots wanted Strange, who are we to demolish the selection. Because it’s the Patriots and an offensive lineman, don’t be surprised if “one of the worst first-round picks” becomes a quality starter for a long time.