Offensive linesman Cole Strange is introduced as the Patriots first-round pick in a news conference Friday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

By most accounts, Cole Strange was destined to become a mid-round pick.

That is, until the Patriots drafted him 29th overall Thursday night.

Strange ranked as the 76th-best player on The Athletic’s consensus draft board, an average of all major media draft rankings that annually proves to be the most predictive board publicly available. He was the No. 74 player in this class according to NFL Network analyst and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah and 77th-best over at ESPN, signs Strange would’ve been an early third-round pick.

But Patriots Coach Bill Belichick didn’t see it that way.

“Yeah, he wouldn’t have lasted much longer,” Belichick told reporters after the end of Thursday’s first round.

Belichick’s intel seemed to agree with the second-round grade that many teams had on Strange, according to Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy, a former Patriots scout. NFL media scout Lance Zierlein also gave Strange a second-round grade.


It was at the Senior Bowl that Strange’s pre-draft stock began to rise. The 23-year-old proved he could hold up against stiffer competition, after years of playing at the FCS level. Strange then took off at the NFL combine, where he tested as one of the most athletic guards of the past 30 years. His profile fit the Patriots’ mold at offensive line – smart, versatile, tough and athletic enough.

Belichick also said the team didn’t get close to trading down again at No. 29, after initially moving back eight spots in the first round in a deal with Kansas City.

“There are usually options when we’re on the clock. Did we have them? Maybe. … We didn’t really get to that point,” Belichick said. “You know, again, a lot of times teams call, and if you open the conversation, then they go further, and if you don’t, then they don’t. Then you make your pick.”

Belichick added there was “probably a good chance” the Patriots would have drafted Strange at No. 21 had they failed to make a trade.

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