Michigan offensive lineman Mason Cole played all along the line in college.
The Cardinals beefed up the interior of their offensive line on Friday, adding Michigan guard/center Mason Cole in the third round of the draft.
Cole's hallmark is his versatility, as he played both center and tackle in college. He became the first player in the history of the Michigan football program to start the season opener on the line as a true freshman and wrapped up his career with 51 consecutive starts.
"I love his toughness, his leadership," Cardinals coach Steve Wilks said. "During our research and talking to a lot of guys that I know at the University of Michigan, they stood on the table for this young man. He jumps off at you on film."
While he has played everywhere on the line, Cole said he feels most comfortable on the interior and expects to play there in the NFL. The second day of the draft almost ended without his name being called, but the Cardinals chose him with their compensatory selection, four picks from the end.
"Going into the day, I knew if I was going to be (picked), it would be late in the day," Cole said on a conference call with Arizona media. "I got the phone call, and I'm just beyond excited. It's unbelievable."
Cole doesn't appear to be needed right away, as veterans Mike Iupati, Justin Pugh and A.Q. Shipley are projected to start on the interior. But Cole said his experience playing in Jim Harbaugh's pro-style offense with the Wolverines will have him more prepared than the typical lineman coming out of college.
"I don't think there's a better place in college football to play, in terms of being prepared for the next level," Cole said.
General Manager Steve Keim said Cole's experience is a major benefit.
"He's played a ton of football at a big-time university," Keim said. "He's a great technician. He went down to the Senior Bowl and showed those things as well. Again, to me, once you get to the middle rounds, those are the things you look for. Guys who are smart, tough, competitive."
Shipley is in the final year of his contract, while former fourth-round pick Evan Boehm has not seized a full-time starting role in his two years with the team. Cole could be a starting candidate on the interior down the line.
Cole was the Cardinals' only pick of the third round after they dealt their original third-rounder to the Raiders in the trade for Josh Rosen. The Cardinals selected Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk with their second-round pick.