In true New England Patriots fashion, Bill Belichick made some unprecedented, yet seemingly calculated, moves in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Rookie minicamp officially ended Sunday, leaving questions behind about how these players performed. One of which is perhaps the most glaring: did the Patriots organization put too much pressure on a few rookies with their potential aggressive reaches?
Though fans and analysts don’t truly know a thing until players step on the field and perform, many were fairly united in the belief that the Patriots committed one too many reaches in this year’s draft, which certainly didn’t definitively patch up the roster holes that plagued the team in 2021 or were left after free agency departures, trades and cuts.
And it’s not like the Patriots don’t have a questionable draft history. Belichick has famously missed on a ton of picks, specifically with many of his first- and second-rounders. In other words, the concern is real, and now the microscope will be on this new class to deliver — and fast.
3 rookies the Patriots might’ve placed too much pressure on with draft reaches
3. Cole Strange
Cole Strange came as a surprise first-round pick to everyone – including Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, who was looking at him for a selection in the 100s. In an article by Patriots writer Paul Perillo, he evaluated the pick as such: the move to get Strange was sound, but the selection was a head-scratcher. By passing up on quality players, like cornerback Trent McDuffie, to select one that most teams had available much later added to the odd nature of it.
The Patriots have been in a position like this before, though, and as fans always say: “In Belichick we trust.” This statement has checked out with future Patriots Hall of Famer Devin McCourty. Media members said he was chosen too high up back in the 2010 NFL Draft. But the 2022 season proves that this team has more needs than others in the past.
Strange will (hopefully) be an immediate starting offensive lineman and seems fit to protect Mac Jones in the pocket. If the Patriots defense continues to struggle, however, there may be room for doubts and second-guessing the organization’s choice with its first-round selection.