When A.Q. Shipley went down in the Arizona Cardinals Red and White Practice ten days ago, there was never a question on who was replacing him.
The Cardinals and Steve Wilks went immediately to third round pick Mason Cole as the new starter for the Arizona Cardinals in the middle of the offensive line.
Now, the question is can he hold up to the rigors of an NFL season?
Pro Football Focus, in their continued look through each team at camp, has picked their under-the-radar rookies for each team, and the Cardinals was none other than Cole:
Cole was drafted by Arizona in the third round to provide key depth along the interior offensive line. However, with the recent season-ending injury to A.Q. Shipley, Cole may have an opportunity to start at center in his rookie season. Cole was a four-year starter at Michigan who bounced back and forth between left tackle and center throughout his career. His only experience at center came during the 2016 season where he ranked in the top 20 in run-blocking at the position. Where Cole struggled as a center was in pass-blocking, allowing 16 total pressures and posting a pass-blocking efficiency of 96.9, T-99th out of 130 eligible centers. Cole’s versatility should offer a big upgrade to an Arizona offensive line...
Cole’s work in the run game goes along with every other player on the Arizona Cardinals offensive line. Better in the run game than pass protection.
However, with the scheme Mike McCoy seems to be employing, quick pass sets and short routes, the Cardinals will likely see a bump in their overall protection score in 2018, even if it is not based on improved play.
Cole fits what the Cardinals are building, and could be the anchor in the middle for years to come.