Addressing the offensive line in this draft is most crucial for the Lions. They have needs at all three positions, but need to be pragmatic in their approach in re-fortifying the front-five that protects Matthew Stafford. The pick here at No. 82 should be Michigan Wolverines center Mason Cole.
Cole is 6-foot-4, 307 pounds. He has 32 1/8 inch arms and 9 5/8 hands. Cole might be a tad bigger than most centers in the league, but should be able to hold his own against some of these oversized nose tackles in the league. It will be hard for Stafford to win playoff games if his pocket’s integrity keeps getting compromised.
At the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine, Cole ran a 5.23 40-yard dash. He put up 23 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press. His 20-yard shuttle was 4.78 seconds. Cole’s vertical jump was 23.5 inches and his broad jump was 104 inches. But let’s be real. Detroit will want a local product that has played in a pro-style system in nearby Ann Arbor.
While Jim Harbaugh hasn’t exactly gotten great quarterback play in his return to his alma mater, Michigan has returned to relevance thanks to great play in the trenches from guys like Cole. Taking a center at No. 82 in the third round isn’t exciting, but could be a big move for the Lions in the long run.