Who is the first round draft pick of Patriots Cole Strange?

The New England Patriots sure know how to surprise people on the day of the draft. While last year’s roster meeting of college players was quite unusual — quarterback Mac Jones was the favorite to land with the team in the middle of the first round — this year’s Day 1 roster came from left field.

Chattanooga offensive lineman Cole Strange joined the Patriots as the 29th overall pick in this year’s draft. However, who is he? And what does he bring to the table? Let’s find out.

Hard facts

Name: Cole Strange

School: chattanooga

Position: Domestic Attack Line

Age opening day: 24

Mate: 6-foot-5, 307 pounds, 33 arm, 79 3/4 wingspan, 10 1/8 hand,

Sizes: 5.03 40-yard dash, 28” vertical jump, 10’0” wide jump, 4.50 short shuttle, 7.44 3-cone, 31 bench press

Player Profile

Career: A two-star high school linebacker recruit, Strange originally committed in Chattanooga and then briefly transferred to the Air Force before returning. He redesigned his true freshman season and changed positions from six games as a guard during his freshman year in college. Strange then served as a five-year starter for the Mocs, primarily on the left hat, but also briefly on the left tackle and center.

All in all, he appeared in 49 games over the course of his college career. He started 44 games and earned several individual awards. In 2021, he was named a first-team All-American, first-team All-Southern and top offensive lineman in the conference. A team captain, Strange was invited to the Senior Bowl and the Scouting Combine after his senior season.

Strengths: Strange is an athletic freak and, in fact, recorded the seventh highest relative athletic score of all guards in the past 35 years. He has impeccable balance and fluency, and has proven himself when asked to serve as lead and pull blocker.

Weak points: While a fundamentally healthy player, Strange must grow stronger in order to succeed against NFL-level competition. He’s also not the most powerful player when he’s on the move.

Patriot’s example

What is his expected role in New England? While some teams have considered him more of a center than a guard, Strange is expected to be on watch in New England. As such, he will likely help replace the late Ted Karras; Karras was the starting left hat for the Patriots in 2021 and Strange, who started 42 games from that spot in college, is likely to take over.

Where does he fit on the offensive line depth chart? Earlier this season, Matt Groh, the Patriots’ director of player personnel, said the team would expect its first-round pick to have an immediate impact. Strange should be expected to immediately take over the starting gig at the left guard and bring some stability to a position that had tons of it before the departure of Joe Thuney’s free agency in March 2021.

Does he have positional versatility? While most of his photos on Chattanooga fell on the left guard, Strange has experience in other places as well. He started one mid-game in 2019 and another in the left tackle in 2021. He also has a handful of snaps on the right tackle on his resume.

What is the value of his special teams? Like any offensive lineman, Strange has limited value when it comes to kicking. That said, he is expected to fill in as a defender on field goals and extra points kicks right away.

What does it mean for New England’s concept prospects? Picking Strange in the first round met one of the team’s biggest needs, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t another offensive lineman in the cards later on. After all, the tackle’s position remains a bit of a question mark as Isaiah Wynn enters the final year of his contract and Trent Brown is slowly aging.

Verdict in one sentence: His first-round selection may be a head-scratcher, but Strange checks a lot of boxes for the Patriots and is a mean SOB on the domestic strike line.

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