Matt Patricia raves about Patriots draft pick Cole Strange's athleticism originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Even though there were plenty of folks throughout the NFL who felt as though Cole Strange was drafted early when he went off the board at pick No. 29 overall to the Patriots, none would say he's not an NFL-caliber athlete.
NFL coaches and executives have told NBC Sports Boston that the UT-Chattanooga product clearly has the athletic traits to be able to play all three positions along the interior of the offensive line. He proved it at the combine when he ran a 5.03-second 40-yard dash (90th percentile of linemen since 1999), a 7.44-second three-cone drill (89th) and a 4.50-second short shuttle (90th). He also recorded a 10-foot broad jump (99th) and racked up 31 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press (86th).
Patricia explains why transition to offensive side makes sense for Patriots
Combine those traits at 6-foot-5, 307 pounds with an on-field demeanor that makes offensive line coaches giddy, and you have a player the Patriots felt comfortable taking in the first round.
But if he's going to make good on his draft position, his athleticism is going to have to translate from the gym onto the field. His performances against Kentucky last season and at this year's Senior Bowl would suggest that would be the case.
While Strange had an opportunity to flash his athletic ability during rookie minicamp, his rare movement skills apparently stood out against other veterans this week at Gillette Stadium.
"You can see that athleticism," Matt Patricia, who is coaching offensive linemen, said Tuesday. "You can see it match up with the vets who have been here in the NFL, which is really good."
Strange appears slated to take over the left guard spot vacated by Ted Karras' free-agent departure to Cincinnati. Alongside center David Andrews and opposite presumed starting guard Mike Onwenu (in for Shaq Mason, who was traded to Tampa Bay), the Patriots will have a new-look interior of their offensive line.
With a second-year face-of-the-franchise quarterback to protect, there's plenty of pressure on Strange. Though it's very early, it sounds as though to this point he looks the part of a key Mac Jones protector.