Dante Scarnecchia shares ideas on Cole Strange decide

Perry’s Mailbag: Scarnecchia’s tackle Cole Strange decide and extra initially appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Can’t say we’re stunned, however you all had a lot of ideas and opinions in regards to the Patriots‘ choices on this yr’s NFL Draft. As the mud settles and groups put together for rookie minicamps this week, let’s sort out a few of your most urgent questions in a post-draft mailbag.

What the Patriots did in taking Cole Strange at No. 29 general has clearly been the topic of an excessive amount of dialogue. Understandably so.

Strange got here from a decrease degree of competitors at Chattanooga. (Bill Belichick had by no means drafted a non-FBS participant within the first spherical previous to this yr’s draft.) He was drafted to play a place that does not have as a lot league-wide worth as others. (The solely different inside offensive lineman taken within the first spherical by Belichick was Logan Mankins in 2005.)

And he was, in response to a number of league sources — and a number of stories from numerous shopsdrafted sooner than the league at massive anticipated. (Quite a few NFL golf equipment instructed NBC Sports Boston that Strange graded out as a second or third-rounder. One NFC workforce had Strange as a fourth-rounder.)

But taking a sort out at No. 29, as David asks right here, would have been a head-scratcher.

There simply weren’t any left on this yr’s class who would’ve made sense as first-round picks. The subsequent true sort out taken after Tulsa’s Tyler Smith at No. 24 was Ohio State’s Nicholas Petit-Frere within the third spherical. (Central Michigan’s Luke Goedeke went at No. 57 general to Tampa, and although he performed sort out in faculty, he is anticipated to maneuver inside as a professional.) While sort out is the extra worthwhile place in right now’s NFL, reaching for one at No. 29 would not have made a lot sense.

As for going with a guard within the first spherical, I requested former Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia what he thought in regards to the workforce utilizing an early decide on that place late final week. As of Friday morning, Scarnecchia had not watched Strange play a single snap.

 Next Pats Podcast: Grading the Patriots draft; why Cole Strange is slightly TWISTED | Listen & Follow | Watch on YouTube

“Everybody has high expectations when you go into the draft, especially in fandom where we are,” he mentioned. “But inside the building, they know what their needs are and what they’re looking for. The rest of us don’t really know the whole story.

“I do know anytime you are taking a lineman within the first spherical, it isn’t a glamorous decide for followers. I do not know what they considered Logan Mankins, however he was the most effective that is ever performed and positively the most effective two to ever do it for the Patriots.”

The Patriots would of course be thrilled if Strange ever reached Mankins’ level.

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

Taken with the No. 32 pick 17 years ago, Mankins showed up to Foxboro and quickly looked like one of the team’s best offensive players. In training camp, with a heavy emphasis on one-on-one drills between offensive and defensive trench merchants, it was impossible to hide just how impressive he was.

Similarly, this summer, Strange should have an opportunity to show what he’s made of early on. And those in attendance will have an opportunity to see for themselves just how NFL-ready the rookie is.

Strange has an aggressive on-field demeanor, good size and impressive athletic traits, as Mankins did leaving Fresno State almost two decades ago. But Strange has a long way to go before earning comparisons to the man who is now eligible to be voted into the Patriots Hall of Fame, a man Scarnecchia has up there with John Hannah as one of the two best linemen in team history.

Expectations will be high, though. One AFC team told NBC Sports Boston that a guard drafted in the first round for their club would need to project as an eventual Pro Bowler, whereas a guard taken in the third round would have to be seen as a capable starter.

We’ll see where on that spectrum Strange lands. He doesn’t have to be Mankins to end up being worthy of a first-round choice. But given the value at that position in today’s game, and given the obvious need the Patriots have at guard on their roster, he’ll need to flash early to make good on his new employer’s faith in him.

Hey, Dylan. I think post-draft grades are just another way to assess what’s gone on and generate some discussion. No one is saying they know more than Bill Belichick. No one is saying they’re right and the Patriots are wrong.

Grades, from my vantage point, are just real-time opinions. I enjoy them, and we did our own for the first time this year. (As an aside, it’s funny, I don’t remember hearing much about Patriots draft grades last year. Probably because the team was almost unanimously praised for their weekend haul.)

Part of the reason I think those real-time opinions are fair is because teams certainly have opinions of their own drafts. (And they can vary depending on to whom you speak.) Teams certainly have opinions of the drafts of other clubs as well. And when we can share those opinions, we do.

What I did in the immediate aftermath of this draft this year was begin to reach out to folks in the league who can shed some light on what we’d just seen. I relayed those thoughts as quickly as possible. Then using those team-provided assessments as a launching point, we put a grade on the entire weekend.

Can’t speak to how anyone else does their grading, but to say ours is self-indulgent is to misunderstand how it came to be. I don’t grade players. But teams do. And when I can pass along their thoughts on certain picks, I think that’s interesting information to provide our audience.

I think the 2020 draft could actually end up looking OK, QS. If the Patriots came away with two quality starters in that one — Kyle Dugger and Mike Onwenu, two players still developing — that would have to be viewed as a success.

Drafts just don’t typically yield all that much in the way of starting-level talent. And Josh Uche will be given an opportunity to sink or swim on the edge in 2022, it appears, so maybe there’s a possibility Bill Belichick gets more than a starting strong safety and guard.

I think his role, Dilly, would be to provide what the Patriots hoped Nelson Agholor would provide last season. They’ll want him to be a legitimate vertical threat, who can force defenses to soften up on the Patriots run game.

Teams did not fear Patriots receivers last year. Now with DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton, they have two different types of players who can attack similar areas of the field. And once defenses feel threatened vertically, allocating resources to the deep portion of the field, then that should only provide more space for New England’s already-potent running game.

The question is, if Thornton is supposed to be what Agholor was supposed to be, what happens to Agholor? We discussed recently on the Patriots Talk podcast.

The team definitely values Strange’s potential as a center, Tom. He got work there at the Senior Bowl. But David Andrews has an argument as the team’s best and most consistent offensive lineman at the moment. Moving on from him in the near future — he’ll be 30 in July; Strange will be 24 in July — would be odd.

But could Strange end up at center eventually? Sure. Injuries happen, and to have someone who can handle multiple positions inside, like Ted Karras, has immense value.

I don’t think so, SHWIK. Could he get them through a game the way Bryan Stork did years ago out at tackle? Probably. But he just hasn’t spent much time out there.

I asked his Chattanooga coach, Rusty Wright, about that kind of shift on the Next Pats podcast.

Looks like the Cardinals got aggressive to fill their Hopkins-sized void by trading for Hollywood Brown on draft weekend. Could prove difficult to find a taker for Agholor’s services given the base salary he’d carry with him ($9 million) in that kind of deal.

It’s Agholor. I’m just not sure how they can shed him without taking on a significant dead-money charge.

They could release him, saving over $4 million. But a release would also result in $10 million in dead money. That’s gargantuan, given Agholor’s role. Remember, Tom Brady had a dead-money cap charge of $13.5 million in 2020 when he left for Tampa Bay.

Appreciate that, SE. As far as Mac Jones‘ development, I understand the concerns around Josh McDaniels’ departure, Joe Judge’s arrival and Matt Patricia’s return to the sidelines. But my guess is Judge and Patricia will be attached to Bill Belichick’s hip as they figure out how to attack this coming season.

It’ll mean more on the plates of Jerod Mayo and Steve Belichick on the defensive side of things. But I do think any developmental stagnation offensively could be curbed by a more heavily-involved Bill Belichick.

Not sure I’d read into the results in this draft as confidence in the red-shirted players, Murph! They’ve seen these guys play in just as many regular-season snaps as you.

However… I’d say there are two potential exceptions to that thought: Cam McGrone and Ronnie Perkins. McGrone has plenty of support in the building as a player with real upside. He’ll be one of many puzzle pieces at inside linebacker this year, along with Ja’Whaun Bentley, Mack Wilson and Raekwon McMillan.

Perkins, meanwhile, was a third-round pick. And the depth on the edge of Belichick’s defense is lacking. He’ll have all kinds of opportunity to earn a gig, and he could find himself thrust into real action — ready or not — if Uche can’t stay healthy.

It’s possible the Patriots try D’Eriq King as a receiver. Will he be the next Julian Edelman? Highly unlikely. He’s smaller (5-foot-9, 196 pounds) and did not show good change-of-direction skills at his pro day (7.26-second three-cone drill).

It’ll be interesting to see how he’s used in camp. He’s seen some running back work this offseason as well, so maybe there’s a receiving-back role for him waiting in Foxboro. His quarterback background might make him an interesting choice for that particular job since he likely has a sound understanding of pass-protection schemes.

Johnny, you know where we’re going with this. That’s right. The kicking game. If anyone is going to make it as an undrafted player, he’ll first — in all likelihood — have to have a role on special teams. That’s why I’m looking for a fast guy. Texas special-teamer Brenden Schooler, for me, would be the obvious choice.

Marcus Jones. Teams loved him. The knock all along was his size (5-foot-8, 175 pounds), but there’s little doubt he’s an NFL-caliber athlete with the ability to do some special things with the ball in his hands.

Any time now, Jason. Veteran players may be willing to wait through the first portion of spring workouts. Injuries may happen, making teams more desperate for player services. Plus, workouts this time of year aren’t always valued incredibly highly by those with years of experience.

But the time for veteran free agents to count against a team’s comp-pick formula has come and gone.

He’s viewed as a sub back, Mike, yes. Some differences in terms of pass protection responsibilities from South Dakota State to the pro ranks — some NFL clubs didn’t love his thin lower half — but if he can pick up that portion of the game, he’ll find his way onto the field.

I didn’t hate it, Rick. I just know, as I explained above, there are teams who wouldn’t have gone the route they went with their first two picks.

Taking two running backs was another choice that teams questioned in my conversations with them. But the players who have to make an impact given their draft position are Strange and Thornton. Marcus Jones should, too. And soon.

Matt Groh told us himself that ideally your first, second and third-rounders are contributing early. That’s the bar.

At inside linebacker, I think Ja’Whaun Bentley, Mack Wilson and Cam McGrone will all be on the 53-man roster. At outside linebacker, Matt Judon will lead the way along with Josh Uche, Ronnie Perkins and Harvey Langi. (Langi can play both inside and out.) That’s my guess, at least.

Brian Hoyer. Bailey Zappe looks like a backup-of-the-future type right now.

I think Jack Jones is viewed in some corners as a slot. I think he has more length (5-foot-11) than some give him credit for because he’s so light (171 pounds at the combine). So I’d place him in the group of boundary corners along with Malcolm Butler, Jalen Mills and Terrance Mitchell.

In the slot they have Jon Jones, Marcus Jones and Myles Bryant.

Let’s go with Chasen Hines, the guard from LSU, as the sixth-rounder to make it.

Nope! But I did think that was one of the most unusual nuggets I’ve ever seen from the great Dane Brugler and his annual draft guide, “The Beast,” he puts out through The Athletic. Few, if any, in the media world know more about these players headed into the draft than Dane.

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