Forget Center, Mason Cole Ought to Be Considered for RG
Vikings fans are desperate for something positive to happen along the offensive line. For too long, we’ve been subjected to athletic o-linemen who can’t anchor and/or patchwork free agent solutions that simply create more problems. The hope is that the Vikes will finally have a formidable tackle tandem in Brian O’Neill and Christian Darrisaw. The interior of the o-line remains a work in progress, leading many to question whether Mason Cole should stick at center.
Take a peak at what Dustin had to say about the situation over at Vikings Territory:
Bradbury attaches draft stock to his reputation – he was chosen in the 1st Round of the 2019 NFL Draft – while Cole is the journeyman type, arriving the Vikings as an Arizona Cardinals castoff. Based on draft stock, Bradbury is a no-brainer to reclaim his job. But according to actual on-the-field play, the Vikings would be foolhardy to retreat back to Bradbury.
Here’s the thing: why would the Vikings, after all the poor play from Bradbury, make the move now? In the past, the team had Brett Jones as an option. He always played better than the other iOL options and yet he remained on the sidelines. Perhaps the fact that Zim is fighting for his job will give him a new sense of urgency, but I’m of the belief that the Vikings will make the mistake of putting Bradbury back into the starting center spot.
Does that mean Mason Cole should be relegated to the bench? By no means. There happens to be two guards who have struggled lately.
At RG, Oli Udoh has become a penalty machine. Every week there’s a new holding penalty, false start, or unnecessary roughness. The former sixth-rounder has committed 11 penalties this season. His promising start has thus taken a hit, as evidenced by his 49.6 pass blocking grade on PFF. The team shouldn’t give up on Udoh; he’s an athletic, powerful player who was drafted late. Keep him around as depth and as someone who may need another season or two to figure things out. Until then, see if Mason Cole can do the job at RG.
The reason why I see Udoh as the likeliest player to be replaced is simply because of the draft slot. Cleveland is a 2nd; Bradbury is a 1st. As Dustin mentions in his piece, the team’s leadership doesn’t want to give up on those players. A sixth rounder offers way less pressure.
Admittedly, changing positions isn’t as easy as I’m making it sound, but there’s at least some reason to believe Cole has what it takes. An article on Vikings.com notes Cole’s postion versatility. Previously, Zim has noted how they always train their OL to play in different spots in case of injury. Moreover, we all know how much the team has played musical chairs at OL over these past several seasons. Continuity is important, but only insofar as it actually leads to improved play from the big fellas.
Moving forward, the Vikings need to continue leaning on what their offense does well as they similarly do their utmost to minimize their weaknesses. At times, the solution could be as simple as improving the players on the field. It remains to be seen if Mason Cole would be an upgrade over Udoh, but there’s very little to lose at this stage.