Cole Strange's college coach never heard from Belichick before draft


Bill Belichick spent plenty of time on the recruiting trail prior to the 2022 NFL Draft. But he didn't stop in Chattanooga, Tenn., it appears.

That's notable because Belichick's New England Patriots drafted a Chattanooga offensive lineman, guard Cole Strange, with the No. 29 pick Thursday night.

It's the first time the Patriots have taken an interior offensive lineman in the first round since Logan Mankins in 2005, so the team obviously liked what it saw in Strange.

According to Strange's college coach, however, he didn't have any interaction with Belichick prior to the draft despite talking with many other NFL head coaches about his highly-touted offensive line prospect.

Curran: Strange could be Mankins 2.0, but he can't force opponents to punt

"You know, (Belichick) was one of the few (NFL coaches) I did not (talk to)," Chattanooga head coach Rusty Wright told WEEI's "Gresh & Keefe" show Friday. "Maybe someday down the road he will, if he knows where Chattanooga is."

Wright said some Patriots staffers did come to Chattanooga to watch Strange, but not Belichick.

"It was mostly the scout guys," Wright added. "We had a couple of different scouts here at a couple of different times and that was the biggest thing. When we had a pro day there were a couple of guys down here, but there were so many people down here for pro day I can’t keep them all straight.

"But yeah, they did their homework and really took their time and made sure it was right for them, and evidently it was."

Belichick calls the shots in the Patriots' draft room, so the fact that he didn't speak directly with the head coach of his first-round pick might seem concerning -- especially since many believed Strange was a massive reach at No. 29 and would have been available in the later rounds.

Wright's revelation isn't too surprising, however. Belichick obviously can't attend every pro day and usually prioritizes high-profile programs like Alabama and Georgia who have multiple high-end draft prospects. So, it sounds like Belichick relied on the intel of his scouts, who apparently liked Strange enough to convince Belichick to take him in the first round.

New England is slated to have three more picks -- No. 54, No. 85 and No. 94 -- on Day 2 of the NFL Draft, which kicks off at 7 p.m. ET on Friday night.

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