Flanked by Robert and Jonathan Kraft, Patriots 2022 first-round draft pick Cole Strange was introduced to the media on the field inside Gillette Stadium on Friday afternoon, as the soft-spoken selection still seemed to be floating on air after being tabbed by New England.
"It's a dream come true, honestly," said Strange, donning his 2022 Patriots draft cap while standing below New England's six Super Bowl banners. "I don't really know what to say other than that, I'm so happy to be here. I love it here already, I've only been here a few hours."
Strange has the potential to immediately fill a significant hole at guard along the Patriots' offensive line. After the offseason departures of Shaq Mason and Ted Karras, there are starting jobs to be won, with Michael Onwenu a top candidate to fill one of them.
The rookie is excited to jump in and get going, with his new quarterback that he'll be charged with protecting already reaching out early Friday morning.
"Mac Jones, he texted me this morning and I think we're going to go eat dinner tonight," said Strange, adding that even though it was his first time coming to the Northeast, he already felt comfortable. "Honestly, it just felt like I was home."
Scouts note that Strange brings an edge to his play, an attitude reminiscent of some of the Patriots' most decorated guards over the years. He shared some insight into how he was able to bring that fire to his play.
"I just try to play aggressive in general and I've always done this thing, I don't think it's anything special but I create these narratives in my mind to get me a little extra motivation, even if it isn't real," said Strange. "The pettiest thing you can think of that shouldn't bother you at all, you just go down that rabbit hole and say 'I'm going to let this bother me'.
"I guess I just always try to play like that, I feel like that is how the game of football is supposed to be played."
With the exhaustive pre-draft process behind him, the rookie can finally just focus on becoming a New England Patriot and everything that comes with it. He was under no illusions how difficult the road ahead will be.
"This is where it starts in my opinion. Getting drafted first, that's a dream come true but there's a lot of work to do," said Strange. "I'm going to put the work in, I know for a fact it's going to be a battle. I know there's going to be a lot of work involved and I actively look forward to that."