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Confident Cole Strange ready to ring in new era after being introduced at Gillette Stadium

Cole Strange was all smiles while being introduced as the Patriots' 2022 first-round pick.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — Cole Strange was watching the draft at home with his father, Greg, Thursday night when an unfamiliar number rolled across his phone. He didn’t know the digits, but he knew this was no robo call.

“I’ll be honest. I wasn’t familiar with 508 or what area code that was, but my ears, everything immediately perked up and I was like, ‘This is something,’ ‘’ Strange said in his slight southern drawl Friday afternoon, standing on the turf at Gillette Stadium. “I answered it and I looked at my dad and I was . . . I gave him the eye — he knew what was happening.’’


It was Bill Belichick on the other end, telling the standout Chattanooga guard he was about to become the Patriots’ first-round draft pick.

The Patriots had met with Strange on several occasions, including at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine, and obviously after putting all their reports together they felt confident Strange was their guy.

Strange’s reaction to those chats also was positive.

“I came away with a relatively good feeling. Every time that we talked, I felt confident, you know, that they liked me,’’ Strange said, flashing a wide smile. “I knew that I liked them. I loved them. But yes, sir. I feel good.’’

First-round draft pick Cole Strange holds up his Patriots jersey alongside owner Robert Kraft (left) and president Jonathan Kraft.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

On Friday morning, Strange’s phone was blowing up again — this time it was a text message from the man he’ll be protecting for the forseeable future — Mac Jones.

“Honestly, it just felt like I was home, honestly,” Strange said. “He just texted me and was like, ‘Hey man, just wanted to reach out and say what’s up.’ I was like, ‘Thank you. I’m fired up to be a Patriot.’’

The pair had a brief exchange and were scheduled to break bread Friday night.


“We just texted back and forth, and he was asking me how long I was going to stay [in New England]. I was like, ‘I don’t have a clue. They just told me to come out here,’ ‘’ Strange said. “And then he’s like, ‘Well, we’re going to get some dinner. And I was like, ‘Yes, we are going to get some dinner, Mac.’ ‘’

Asked about his trademark aggressive style of play, Strange said he really related to Michael Jordan’s motivation that the NBA Hall of Famer revealed in the “The Last Dance.”

“I was watching it like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is awesome.’ It’s something I’d kind of done, but I’d really never put it into words,” he said. “He talked about how he would make up these narratives just to get him upset or angry, so he’d play with a little bit more fire. I was like, ‘I feel like I’ve been doing that, but I’ve never conscientiously put a tag on it: Like, this is what I do.’ I guess I just always try to play like that. I feel like that’s how the game of football is supposed to be played.”

And just what kind of narratives would Strange invent?

“The pettiest thing that you can think of that shouldn’t bother you at all. You just go down the rabbit hole of feeding that wolf and saying, you know what, I’m going to let this bother me,” Strange said. “You can let that carry in your imagination. I’m sure all of you can probably think of something.’’


Cole Strange says he makes up narratives to motivate him on the field, similar to NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Belichick is a fan of Strange’s ornery style.

“He’ll have a chance to finish blocks, clean the pocket, help the runner downfield, things like that,’’ the coach said. “Yeah, those are good qualities for an offensive lineman to have.”

Strange is the first guard the Patriots have selected in the first round since plucking Logan Mankins.

Robert Kraft, who along with his son, Jonathan, was showing Strange the grounds Friday, recalled the last time the Patriots selected a guard in the first round.

“I know a lot of people sometimes question when we take an offensive lineman in the first round, but in 2005, we took Logan Mankins and that worked out pretty well,’’ he said.

Honor to be picked

Wellesley’s Ben Lepper, a Make-A-Wish child who has overcome leukemia, joined Las Vegas native Lawrence Guy, the Patriots 2021 Walter Payton Man of the Year, to announce New England’s second-round pick, receiver Tyquan Thornton from Baylor . . . Moose Hoffman, who was the Patriots’ pubic relations director in 1982, reached out to say former linebacker Clayton Weishuhn — who died last week — “was a real gentleman, salt of the earth, and an old-school player.’’ When Weishuhn told Hoffman his name was pronounced WHY-soon, Hoffman gave him the nickname, “Typhoon.’’ As Hoffman pointed out, Weishuhn was part of a notable 1982 draft class that included Andre Tippett, Ken Sims, Lester Williams, Fred Marion, and Cedric Jones.

Trading up

This was the fourth straight season the Patriots traded up in the second round … The club also traded its second third-round selection to the Panthers and picked up an additional fourth-round pick and a third rounder in 2023 … New England has seven Day 3 picks: Three in the fourth round (Nos. 121, 127, and 137); three in the sixth round (Nos. 183, 200, and 210); and one in the seventh round (No. 245).


Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.