BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The New England Patriots made a 'strange' choice in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday.
New England drafted Cole Strange, an inoffensive lineman from the University of Tennesse at Chattanooga, with the 29th overall pick. The Patriots previously held the 21st overall pick, but they traded it to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for the 29th pick, 94th, and the 121st pick.
Strange played at Chattanooga for six years and was a starter for five—he was able to play an additional year after the NCAA gave athletes an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID pandemic. He is the second Chattanooga player to ever compete in the NFL scouting combine and the Senior Bowl.
He started in 44 of 49 games in his career and has played both guard and tackle. Strange was named to the Associated Press 2021 All-America Third Team.
Patriots Head coach Bill Belichick said Strange's performance against SEC teams during his time in college and his performance at the Senior Bowl stood out to him.
"He's a pretty athletic guy with good size, smart," Belichick said after the draft. "He does a lot of things and has a lot of good tools to work with. He's got a long way to go like every player does when he comes into the NFL, but we're looking forward to working with him."
Some raised questions about the Patriots' move to draft Strange in the first round, as many draft experts and analysts had him projected to go in the third round rather than the first. Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead were surprised by the Patriots' choice.
But Belichick told reporters he was happy with where they got Strange and that he believes if they hadn't taken him at 29, he would not have been available when the Patriots picked again. The Patriots have 10 more picks in the remaining rounds. The second and third rounds are set for Friday night.
WBZ's Adam Kauffman (@AdamMKauffman) reports.