When all goes well, the center position doesn’t get much attention. However, it is one of the most important positions on the field. Many offenses have the center call protections at the line of scrimmage, and the center is the only player, besides the quarterback, who touches the ball on every snap.
The New York Giants are at a crossroads with their center position. Weston Richburg is a free agent and coming off a season lost to injury, but has been one of the best centers in the NFL. On the other hand, restricted free agent Brett Jones filled in admirably for Richburg in his absence.
But what if the Giants decide to bolster the position with a versatile rookie? Michigan’s Mason Cole is not only one of the best centers in the draft, but has that coveted versatility.
- Very quick player. Has no problems snapping the ball and dealing with quick rushers.
- Good play strength when playing with proper leverage. Capable of stonewalling bull-rushes and walking defenders back on power runs.
- Plays with great technique. Always tries to get his hands inside defenders’ shoulders, generally plays with good leverage and pad level.
- Versatile. Generally considered a center, but played left tackle for Michigan in 2017
- Moves well in space when asked to pull or block downfield for screen plays.
- Played in a Pro Style offense.
- Relatively average size shows up when he doesn’t play with leverage. Can be sent reeling by a defender if his pad level rises.
What they’re saying
“I was looking forward to Cole’s return to the center position and he did not disappoint. He’s a long, lean blocker who did a great job on the pivot, playing with solid fundamentals and intelligence. Cole was quick, moved well and won his battles. He needs to get a bit stronger but should be the second center off the board come April.”
- Tony Pauline, DraftAnalyst
We heard last year that the Giants were very interested in Cole. He has the versatility to play multiple positions, but he is best on the interior, with center being his natural position.
He is undersized at tackle, but as a center helped open holes for a strong Michigan running game in 2016 while also being a very reliable pass protector. His experience in Jim Harbaugh’s Pro Style offense will also help minimize his learning curve as he adjusts to the NFL. He is used to playing with a quarterback under center and blocking for similar concepts as he will in the pros, both of which are definite marks in his favor.
Cole isn’t the type of player who leaps off the tape with overwhelming size, power, or athleticism. Instead, he is just a good, solid football player who does just about everything well.
If the Giants let Richburg leave in free agency, Cole’s might be a good name to watch as they rebuild their offensive line. His talent as well as his ability to play multiple spots, a trait he shares with Brett Jones, would give the Giants flexibility in piecing together their new offensive line.