HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
VIDEO PRESS CONFERENCE
April 28, 2022
Q Was Cole Strange the best player on your roster there at pick No. 29?
BILL BELICHICK: Yes. I mean, we felt like he was a good – a guy who fits in well – Cole fits in well with our team and our system. I obviously think he’s a good player.
Q How much was Cole on your radar while playing Chattanooga? And obviously, he had an exceptional week in the Senior Bowl. Is that what drove his stock up and really opened your eyes to making him your pick?
BILL BELICHICK: Yeah, again, it’s a mix of working with any player, so whatever opportunities you have to assess him, you assess him. Senior Bowl was one of them. It was definitely a competitive step up. They played a few SEC teams and his coaching was pretty good as well. He’s a pretty athletic guy with a good build, smart. It does a lot of things, has a lot of great tools to work with. He still has a long way to go, like all players when he comes to the NFL, but I look forward to working with him.
Q Can you explain how the trade went down? Was it something that happened on the clock, and what consideration was there at 21 to just hang around and maybe take the guy the Chiefs came for, McDuffie?
BILL BELICHICK: Yeah, there were a few options there. We did what we thought was best and made the best decision that we felt like we made the best decision possible, so that’s what we did.
Q Was Cole considered when you were picking at 21? And what separated him from the other guys on the board there at 29?
BILL BELICHICK: Yeah, well, if we had stayed at 21, obviously we would have picked somebody. Chances are it’s him. I don’t know, there were several teams we spoke with before making the trade. There were other conversations going on there, but ultimately this is the one we chose.
Glad Cole was there when we picked, and like I said, I feel like we made the best decision possible at 21.
Q Bill obviously you have a guard opening right now but can you tell us about your assessment on Strange or do you think there is a chance center will be his best long term position , or do you think he’s just a guard for you?
BILL BELICHICK: Yeah, we’ll see. He played in every position on the offensive line. So we’ll see. I am not sure.
Q Did you have a belief that if you waited for your next pick, Strange would be gone, or did you just have a belief about the player?
BILL BELICHICK: Yeah, it wouldn’t have lasted much longer.
Q Do you plan to go back down when you were there at 29?
BILL BELICHICK: You know, there are usually options when we’re on time. Did we have them? Perhaps. You know, I don’t know how far we would have — maybe. It’s hard to say. We haven’t really come to that. 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 choice.
Q What stands out about Cole as a run blocker when you’ve watched him?
BILL BELICHICK: Again, it’s long, it’s athletic. He is physically tough. He is an aggressive player. I think he has a good combination of skill, running and passing, movement, length, strength, again, which hopefully will improve, as they will with any player coming from college to the National Football League. But I think he has a good skill set, and he’s a smart player who makes a lot of good decisions on the inside line there, timing, when to get out, and combo blocks, things like that.
But you know, as always, it will be good to work with a player, but he has a lot to learn and a lot to do.
Q What makes Cole Strange a first-round talent in your assessment?
BILL BELICHICK: All the things I just talked about.
Q Is there anything about your assessment leading up to the project that really stood out to you?
BILL BELICHICK: Again, I think he has a good combination of skills and abilities. He played well. He played well against good competition in Chattanooga, both in their conference and when they played, and I think he played well against competition in the Senior Bowl. Yes, he is an intelligent player who has played in several positions. We’ll see how it goes, but I think he can handle — well, we’ll see exactly how it goes here, but I think he has the opportunity to be competitive in a few different areas, but we let’s see how it goes.
Q I was reading some scouting reports, and they both pointed out that he seems to be – Cole Strange seems like a really aggressive player. Is that something that stood out to you in the movie, and if so, how much is that a trait you value in an inside offensive lineman?
BILL BELICHICK: Yeah, I think you always want those guys on the line of scrimmage to be aggressive. You don’t want them – passive probably isn’t the adjective we want to describe offensive and defensive linemen with. But yeah, I think he has a good style of play and, like I said, a good skill set. Like any player, he has a long way to go, a lot of things to work on, and we’re going to start working with him on those things, but we’re looking forward to it.
Q Did it seem like something he enjoyed or came naturally to him? Because I saw the single bar face mask, no gloves, looks like someone wants to get their hands dirty in there.
BILL BELICHICK: Yeah, I don’t think equipment and all of that is such a huge factor for me, but style of play and — again, offensive lineman, he’s going to have a chance to finish blocks, cleaning the pocket, helping the runner down, things like that. Yes, those are good qualities for an offensive lineman.
Q I just wanted to go back a bit. I obviously know you took Logan in the first round in 2005, but in the last 10 years you’ve invested the least amount of draft capital in interior offensive linemen than any other position on the roster. What made Cole Strange the exception to this sort of pattern over the last 10, 12 years?
BILL BELICHICK: Yeah, again, every draft is different in how it plays out. Obviously it’s a new set of players every year and a new combination of position and circumstances around you based on what other teams are doing. I don’t really like comparing drafts to each other because they’re all unique, they’re all different. Like I said, I feel like we did what was best for the football team with the opportunities we had today, and we’ll try to do the same tomorrow and Saturday. and after the draft and will try to make the most of every opportunity. That we have.
Q Is it fair to say that the open vacancy from the starting lineup a year ago at guard was a major factor in Cole’s selection here?
BILL BELICHICK: No, not really. I don’t think we intentionally go into a project trying to say, well, we have to get this position or that position. Sometimes it works that way, which he did last year, and he did this year. But it wasn’t like there weren’t other positions and other players that we would have thought of.
The board was – players came off the board pretty much as we thought for the most part, and it’s – again we felt like we did the best option – we took the best option we had, whether it was 21 or 29, whatever it ended up being, 29. In both moments, we felt like we made the best choice possible.
Q Looking ahead, I think you have 10 picks left between the 2nd and 7th rounds. How would you kind of assess the opportunities for the team, and how do they kind of mesh with how you view the overall project?
BILL BELICHICK: Yeah, well, I think that’s – we’ll have plenty of time tomorrow to reset the board and take a look at the question you asked, and rather than try to answer it now, really we were focusing more on the first 32 picks and how we saw that forming and what the teams – although there was quite a bit of movement but going there we tried to be aware of what some of the teams around us were doing.
But there were a number of exchanges, there were some exchanges from player to player, which is rather unusual to see. The card game got a bit mixed up there. I’d much rather than guess an answer here, we’ll be back tomorrow, we’ll replenish our board like we did a few hours ago before the first round. We’ll take a look at the draft decree and so on and who’s around us. Like you said, we have a number of picks, so we probably have some flexibility with what we could do over the next two days, different from what we had a few hours ago before the draft, and let’s see what our options are. . I’m sure we’ll hear from other teams or have some type of communication with other teams, and maybe that reflects what we’re doing or maybe it doesn’t. . We will have to wait and see what it is and how it turns out.
The question you are asking is the same as the one I am asking. We’ll work on that tomorrow and try to figure that out. But you’re right, the number of picks and the depth of the draft that we currently have in the third, fourth — in those kind of middle rounds, we’ll have to take a look at that and see, okay, what we think we what we can do with this, and would we rather be in a different position than we are in or do we like where we are and so on, and maybe someone will come to us with something to consider, one way or the other, up, down. So we’ll just have to — I’m sure we’ll know a lot more tomorrow once we have things against the roll, but we have to reset the board and redefine the strategy like we did today, and then we’ll do the same after tomorrow’s draft. We’ll reset the board for Saturday and see what it looks like.
Yes, that’s the plan for tomorrow.