124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

Belicheck Yourself

Sean McVay and Les Snead’s reaction to the Patriots taking Cole Strange in the first round is what draft night is all about

About two-thirds of the way through the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft on Thursday, something strange happened, something that shocked the entire football world: The New England Patriots traded back.


The New England Patriots always trade back. They’re synonymous with it. Partly because Belichick craves value over everything else. Partly because they’re excellent deep-draft talent evaluators. Partly because they’ve always been good and by the time they're are on the clock each year, the can’t-miss guys are gone. Whatever the reason, it’s their MO and they stuck to it on Thursday.

What happened next, however, was a genuine surprise.

With the 29th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots selected Cole Strange, guard, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. Thing is, Strange wasn’t expected to be a first-round pick … or a second-round pick either. In Matt Miller’s full seven-round mock for ESPN, he had Strange going 95th-overall to the Cincinnati Bengals. In Chad Reuter’s full seven-round shebang for NFL dot com, he had Strange going 104 to the Los Angeles Rams. This last one is notable because soon after the Patriots took Strange a full 70 picks earlier than expected, video surfaced of Rams coach Sean McVay and GM Les Snead reacting to Belichick and co.’s latest (and greatest?) reach.

The reaction says it all. McVay’s jaw literally drops. “Cole Strange just went!” he utters in disbelief. “Oh my! UT-Chattanooga to the first round!” says Snead. “How about that?” McVay continues. “And we wasted our time watching him thinking he’d be at 104!”

If that isn’t a filthy Belichick slider in the dirt, we honestly don’t know what is. In fact, if you told us Belichick specifically took this kid in the first so the defending Super Bowl champs couldn’t have him in the third, we’d 100% believe you. Such are the depths of New England’s subterfuge. More likely, though, is the fact Belichick doesn’t care about big boards or what Mel Kiper Jr. ate for breakfast. If he sees a kid he likes, he takes that kid, and then makes that kid better. Strange is just the latest (and perhaps strangest) example, but he certainly won’t be the last.