Everything was lined up perfectly for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots at Pick No. 21. The stage was set. An overload of defenders were slipping, giving the guru the pick of the litter at the tail end of the first-round.
So, who would it be? A do-it-all LB? A cornerback to replace JC Jackson? An … an edge rusher, for whatever reason?
As the pick approached, those fans who spent the past several months making the same, tired joke were actually the ones who called it. Overload of excellent options? Why not trade down?
Yes, even with the hated Chiefs. Kansas City took Trent McDuffie, the cornerback out of Washington, leaving the Pats to sort out their options at a slightly later hour.
With Belichick’s 84th draft day deal, the Patriots nabbed two of the assets the Chiefs collected in the Tyreek Hill trade and waited until pick No. 29 to fortify their roster.
Patriots trade down with Chiefs to No. 29 in 2022 NFL Draft, select … Cole Strange?!
Yes. That’s right. The Patriots ignored the built-up pile of defensive prospects, as the Jets and Jaguars leapt ahead of them for Florida State pass rusher Jermaine Johnson and Georgia LB Devin Lloyd, and went with … a guard/tackle/center from Tennessee-Chattanooga with a third-or-fourth-round grade attached to him.
But not in New England! Not. In. New England.
So … what, exactly, do we have here? Is this a Kyle Dugger-esque pick out of a Lenoir-Rhyne-type program? Or has Belichick finally reached one level too far?
Strange’s measurables and tools are respected, posting the best broad jump numbers at the Combine (10’0″) as well as the second-most bench press reps with 31. However, his Senior Bowl performance left plenty to be desired after he flattened the competition at a smaller school.
Of course it did. There’s a reason he was projected to be a potential Day 3 pick.
We won’t know whether Belichick was crazy like a fox or just plain crazy to ignore defense and wideouts in 2021’s first round for many moons. But now a powerful project at a non-glaring-hole position must be developed by inexperienced OL guru Matt Patricia.
Too late to rouse Dante Scarnecchia out of retirement?