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The Trainers Who Work With Cole Strange are Astonished by How Freakishly Athletic He Is

Charlie Neibergall. Shutterstock Images.

In the aftermath of the Patriots controversial draft night decision to trade down from 21 to 29 - passing up CB Trent McDuffie and LB Quay Walker, among others - and select G Cole Strange out of Chattanooga, a program known only for producing Terrell Owens and the dad on Leave it to Beaver, Ward Cleaver:

Giphy Images.

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… I was as shocked as you were. I mean, I saw guard as a top priority and included Strange in my preview. But under the subhead "Mid-Round Projects." But after further review, and hearing how people in the league were higher on him than the members of America's draft punditry class:

… the pick made more sense. 

Which I bring up because of this piece from Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal, who talked to the trainers Strange has been working with. And to read their comments, it sounds like the Patriots just drafted a member of The Justice League. (One of the good ones; not the guy who runs fast but keeps getting arrested for hitting people in bars and being belligerent to the cops.)

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Source - For a man this size, Strange’s extraordinary athleticism usually has his trainer and workout partners shaking their heads.

“Just like a guy, a 6-5, 310 just rolling and moving like that — looking like a kid almost, you’re just like, ‘Oh, my gosh,’ ” [Peak Kinetic Performance owner Gannon] Hampton said. “This guy is just very freakishly athletic.” …

Strange left Indianapolis as one of the most athletic offensive interior linemen in NFL history to enter the draft. …

“It's deceiving, like when you first see him. He’s not fat in the slightest,” Hampton said. “We tested his body-fat percentage and his was ridiculously good, but it is crazy for someone at 310 pounds. Just seeing him move, I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh.’ He has a 10-foot broad jump and just seeing the guy accelerate — we do some half-kneeling sprints and different stuff — and it’s like watching a horse get started. …

“[A]nd seeing Cole move like that at that size and seeing how athletic and truly nimble he is shocked me, honestly.” …

Hampton first heard about Strange in 2020. … While training at Agoge Combatives in Chattanooga, Tenn., he performed jujitsu with Strange one evening and came away shocked. It was similar when Strange competed with Agoge black belt instructor Matt Harris, too.

Had Strange not fallen in love with football, it’s quite possible a career in the UFC might have been in his future.

"Matt Harris was like, 'That is the strongest individual I've ever put hands on,’ ” Gannon Hampton said. “I remember John calling me and was like, ‘I swear that dude will be playing in the NFL. … He's 300 pounds and the most powerful dude I've ever rolled with.”

All this from a guy who not only benched 31 reps at a Combine where only one prospect hit 32, he also ran a 5.03 40-time, which was seventh best among interior linemen. And that 10-foot broad jump his trainer mentioned was the best among all non-skill position guys.

The point being, you can criticize the decision not to go with defense in the first round. You can believe the conventional wisdom that the Pats could've moved up or down the draft board and gotten Cole Strange later. You can even say Bill Belichick is a nincompoop with awful judgment who doesn't know how to draft and the game has passed him by. Wait. No you can't. I will fight you to the death before you finish the thought. But just hold your wad when it comes to evaluating this rookie. Everything you hear and read about him makes him sound like he's a rare athlete and a special kind of competitor. And if you're a fan of watching an interior lineman blow a defensive tackle out of a hole, get outside on a pull and seal off the outside linebacker, or decleat a safety on a screen pass - or if you're simply into seeing Mac Jones standing up straight on his precious legs like I am - from the sound of things, we're in for a treat. 

Until we actually get to see Strange in action, the good news can keep coming.