You can never have enough quality interior offensive linemen. The 2022 NFL Draft class is loaded with quality prospects at these positions.
It's just surprising that of all the available choices the New England Patriots chose Tennessee-Chattanooga's Cole Strange in the first round.
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An in-depth, pre-draft look at the Patriots pick causing angst amongst their fan base:
Name: Cole Strange
Size: 6’-6” 301 lbs
Expected round: 4th
Strange at the Senior Bowl
Pass Game: The first thing that you notice with Strange at the left guard position is his vice grip-like hands. Once his hands are inside of your frame, he grips you and never lets's go. He has good play strength and can anchor when contact is initiated. He is able to roll his hips and forklift defenders. He gets into his pass set quickly off the line of scrimmage and has good feet to mirror rushers. Where Strange gets himself in trouble is when his base is too wide which leads to him getting thrown off balance at times. Strange has a high IQ and is able to pick up blitzes that weren’t shown presnap. In one instance, he combo blocked an interior defender with his center, saw a blitzer trying to get through his gap, and was able to peel off the block and stonewall the blitzer. He has shown good overall hand placement, though his initial punch leaves something to be desired. He is consistently looking for more work when not occupied by a defender, helping his fellow lineman out. His hands are constantly fighting and moving to make sure to never lose position and leverage with the defender. He shows position versatility with some left tackle experience under his belt but he does not have "left tackle feet" to stay there long term at the next level. At the moment, he has borderline tackle arm length which keeps blockers away from his frame.
Run Game: Strange is a perfect fit with a team that runs heavy zone-blocking principles. Strange has light feet and can climb to the second level with ease. He has good short-area quickness as he climbs to the second level, he can block moving targets. When he seals blockers when he pulls, all I hear is Vince Lombardi with a "seal here and a seal there" in my head. He was not asked to do that as much but can learn and perfect it more with practice reps with a team that uses primarily power-run blocking schemes. His nastiness displays itself when he plays through the whistle giving defenders extra shoves after the fact. He looks to drive your face into the dirt. He plays with good pad level and has lower body strength to drive defenders off the ball. Plays with good effort and intensity. He is a phone booth type of player.
Bottom Line: Strange is a decorated 5-year starter at Chattanooga. He is highly experienced, playing 49 games and starting 44 of them. He has position versatility playing left tackle and both guard spots in his time with the Mocs. Strange will have competition questions but as scouts dig into his tape, they will see he held his own vs Kentucky in 2021 and Tennessee in 2019. He was also invited to the Senior Bowl and proceeded to have a very successful week against some of the best talents in the country. What was more impressive about Strange during Senior Bowl week was that he had a good week while he was learning to play center for the first time in his career. Center might be his best position in the NFL but he can play all three interior spots and not miss a beat. He will need to gain more weight and fill out his frame to compete week in and week out in the pros. He will be a favorite among offensive line coaches across the league. He is comparable to a recent draft pick, Danny Pinter, of Ball State, who went in the 5th round for the Colts in 2020. We expected Strange to come off the board somewhere along the lines of late-day 2 or early day 3 range.