5 things to know about Patriots 1st-round pick Cole Strange

Meet Cole Strange, the Patriots’ first-round draft pick who rocks a crossbar face mask and no gloves.

Butch Dill
Cole Strange impressed at the Senior Bowl.

The Patriots selected Chattanooga guard Cole Strange with the 29th pick Thursday in the first round of the NFL Draft.

The 6-foot-5-inch, 307-pound Strange was a five-year starter for the Mocs, playing 42 games at left guard and one each at left tackle and center.

Strange made the All-Southern Conference team four times, including a first-team selection in 2021.

Here are five things to know about Strange:

He initially was headed to Air Force.

A two-star linebacker/defensive end out of Farragut High School in the Knoxville suburbs, Strange received just two FBS offers, from Air Force and Army. He committed to FCS Chattanooga, then de-committed and signed with Air Force.


After spending time at Air Force during the Basic Cadet Training Period, Strange transferred back home to Chattanooga to be closer to his family.

“I was very much into the Air Force Academy. I was into the military lifestyle, and I was interested in serving afterwards,” Strange told the Chattanooga Free Press. “I loved Colorado Springs when I was out there, the campus was great, the coaches were awesome. I was all for everything, but the sole reason I didn’t end up going there is because of family.”

He played six years of college football.

As a result of transferring and the COVID-19 pandemic, Strange enters the NFL as an older prospect. He will turn 24 July 31 after a six-year collegiate career.

Strange red-shirted his freshman season at Chattanooga. He made six starts the next season, and 11 each as a red-shirt sophomore and junior. Chattanooga’s 2020 season was shortened and moved to the spring because of the pandemic, and Strange played in four of five games.

He decided to use his extra year of eligibility and return to the Mocs for the 2021 season, his sixth in college.

According to ESPN, Strange didn’t entertain the thought of transferring to an FBS school.

“I made a commitment to y’all, and that’s not going to change,” Strange told Chattanooga coach Rusty Wright.


His stock rose at the Senior Bowl and the Combine.

When the college football season ended, Strange was viewed as a Day 2 or Day 3 prospect, but that changed after strong performances at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine.

Strange said he didn’t even know what the Senior Bowl was at the beginning of his senior season. A few months later, going up against players from the SEC and Big Ten, Strange stood out.

“It was good for me, I think as far as exposure, because I think it was helpful for a lot of NFL teams to see me competing against guys who were at that level,” Strange told USA Today’s Draft Wire. ”I know that anyone who comes from FCS, the first thing of our question is competition. So in that regard, it was good for me, but I just looked at it like it was just ball.”

Then at the combine, Strange’s broad jump of 120 inches was 1 inch shy of the record for an offensive lineman. He also did 31 reps on the bench press.

He wears a crossbar face mask and no gloves.

Strange has a throwback look on the field with a crossbar facemask, no gloves, no knee braces, and just tape on his wrists. He said the facemask is a style he and his friends thought would be cool.


“I never really planned any kind of any part of my game-day get-up to look a certain way,” Strange told USA Today’s Draft Wire. “As far as the face masks, that’s just something that me and some of the boys came together and thought it would be cool. But as far as not wearing gloves, I kind of prefer not wearing gloves.

“I looked at the guys who were putting on tons of tape and gloves, and then wrist braces, and then taping again. And I just thought, ‘Oh my God.’ I would just come out here in my cleats, pants, shoulder pads and helmet.”

He looks up to Eagles center Jason Kelce.

In preparation for the NFL, Strange said he watched film on Colts guard Quenton Nelson and Eagles center Jason Kelce, with the latter standing out.

“I think he’s really interesting,” Strange said. “It’s interesting that he isn’t massive, he’s not like 6-4, 330. He’s what people would say a smaller guy, [but] he’s still a bigger guy. I don’t know how tall he is … 6-2 or so, like 280, 290, something like that. He’s blocking 330-pound guys on the D-line, and he’s one of the best centers in the game right now, so I found that really interesting and enjoyable to watch.”


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