The 2022 National Football League (NFL) draft is now underway, and the New England Patriots made a pick that surprised a lot of people. However, coach Bill Belichick had the full support of team owner Robert Kraft when he chose offensive guard Cole Strange from Chattanooga. Belichick had the 29th pick overall in the first round of the NFL draft.
The shocked reaction was the result of many people believing that Strange would be available in subsequent rounds and that it was not necessary for Belichick to use a first-round pick to acquire him. Kraft acknowledged the surprise of players, fans, and sportscasters by stating that it is usually not the custom in football to choose an offensive lineman in the first round of the draft.
Kraft defended Belichick’s choice, pointing to the 2005 pick of Logan Mankins that turned out well. He also pointed out the selections of offensive tackles Nate Solder in the 2011 season and Isaiah Wynn in the 2018 season as other instances of using first-round draft picks to fill offensive positions. Mankins indeed had a successful career, and many regard him as the best interior lineman to ever play for the Patriots.
What Does Robert Kraft Expect of Cole Strange?
Kraft describes Strange as having exceptional agility, even though he is 6’5” and weighs 307 pounds. He and Belichick both believe that Strange could start for the Patriots on opening day this September. The need is definitely thereafter the loss of guards Ted Karras and Shaq Mason during the off-season. New England’s owner and coaching staff use words like relentless and aggressive when describing Strange.
Some criticism of Belichick’s choice persists, despite Kraft’s public support of his coach. The biggest issue most people seem to have is the feeling that the team would have been better off filling a critical linebacker or cornerback position with their 29th pick in the first round. Even so, Kraft insists that Strange is the best use of the pick because he will offer increased protection to second-year quarterback Mac Jones.
Robert Kraft feels the Patriots are in a good position to advance to the playoffs with Jones at the helm. He adds that bringing Strange onto the team only solidifies the middle, making the quarterback and receivers that much stronger. The Patriots have an additional three picks coming up in the 2022 draft, in spots 54, 85, and 94. Despite some differences of opinion with Belichick regarding draft picks in the past, Kraft fully stands behind the selection of Cole Strange and looks forward to seeing who else the coach will add to the roster.
About Robert Kraft
The Patriots’ team owner earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in the late 1960s and launched his first company in 1968, a packaging operation. Four years later, Kraft founded International Forest Products. He had a keen sense of the growing global economy and how forest products would play into it, allowing him to launch a successful venture that eventually grew into the Kraft Group. The Kraft Group serves as a holding company for its various businesses, including ownership of the New England Patriots.
Kraft’s success in paper and packaging gave him the confidence he needed to branch out into sports and entertainment. His ownership of the Patriots and the New England Revolution soccer team, along with his personal investment in the creation of Gillette Stadium, all fall under the umbrella of Kraft Sports & Entertainment. He also operates Patriot Place and Kraft Analytic Group.
Robert Kraft became owner of the New England Patriots in January 1994 after holding season tickets for 23 years. The team has appeared in nine Super Bowls during Kraft’s tenure so far, winning six of them. He is a beloved figure in the Boston area both for turning around a losing team and for his numerous philanthropic endeavors. Kraft supports numerous causes, but his focus areas include women and children’s health, youth sports, healthcare, and programs to support strong partnerships between the United States and Israel.