This year wasn't the exception to that rule, with the Pats trading down to get rather-unknown OT Cole Strange, a decision that was met with disbelief and mixed reviews.
Strange's selection was a perfect representation of how scouts viewed this draft. Per a league executive and Michael Sando of The Athletic, it seemed like there was no true consensus on the big board:
“Cole Strange is really symbolic of the way people viewed this draft,” the executive told Sando. “It really was such an eye-of-the-beholder draft. ‘We are taking guys we like, we don’t care where people have them mocked, we don’t care if people think it’s a reach.’ In the past, I feel like teams were more like, ‘We like him, but we can get him later.’”
While some people thought the Pats reached to get Strange, it seems like he was on some teams' radars, even drawing comparisons to All-Pro Joe Thuney:
“He has unbelievable feet, his angles and technique are flawless, and I think he would have a high second-round grade,” an unnamed talent evaluator told The Athletic. “He can get a little stronger. The rest, he has already got. Just an excellent lineman in space. He is Joe Thuney-like and can become a great left guard with the feet to play center. New England now has power on the right side of its line and good feet on the left.”
But even if other people didn't like him, you know Bill Belichick couldn't care less. He liked what he saw and that's all it mattered:
“He’s long, he’s athletic. He’s physically tough. He’s an aggressive player,” Belichick said. “I think he has a good combination of skills, run and pass, movement, length, strength, again, all of which will hopefully get better, like they will with any player coming from college to the National Football League."
Well, the Draft is already on the record books. The Pats were reportedly waiting until after the Draft to make more free agency moves as they didn't want to mess up their compensatory pick formula.
But so far, it doesn't seem like they're in a rush to add more talent. They don't look like a better team now than the team they were a year ago. But you know Belichick always has an ace up his sleeve.