After months of speculation, the Patriots’ pick is in. After trading back in the first round, the team drafted Chattanooga offensive lineman Cole Strange 29th overall.
Strange, who will turn 24 during training camp, was a five-year starter for the Mocs taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA following the COVID-19 Pandemic. In those five years Strange started 44 games mainly at left guard and center. He was a third team All-American in 2021, as well as first-team All-SoCon. From 2018-2020 he was second-team All-SoCon.
Following the 2021 season, Strange was invited to the Senior Bowl where he was one of the top performers. That event is traditionally one the Patriots focus on. He was one of the top testers among interior offensive linemen at the Combine as well, finishing with the best broad jump (10 feet) and second-best bench press results (31 reps). Heading into the draft, Strange was projected to go towards the end of Day 2.
Apr 28, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Chattanooga guard Cole Strange is announced as the twenty-ninth overall pick to the New England Patriots during the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft at the NFL Draft Theater. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
At 6-foot-5, 307 pounds, Strange is expected to be a hybrid guard/center at the next level. He sees the game well and is technically sound – especially when it comes to his footwork. Given his starting experience, it’s not surprised he’s advanced in those areas. Getting into an NFL weight program will help him compete against more physical competition.
In New England, Strange will likely compete for the left guard spot opened by Ted Karras’ departure in free agency. Starting right guard Shaq Mason also left this offseason – he was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a fifth round draft pick. The Patriots’ current interior linemen on the roster along with Strange are David Andrews (starting center) Mike Onwenu (projected starting right guard), Drew Desjarlais, Yasir Durant, James Ferentz, and Arlington Hambright.
Prior to taking Strange, the Patriots traded back from the 21st pick. In a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, they picked up the 29th overall pick, 94th overall pick (3rd round), and 121st overall pick (4th round). The Patriots’ next pick is in the second round, at 54th overall.
2022 NFL Draft results: First round
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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.