The front office of the Arizona Cardinals has assembled an offensive line that is loaded with impressive depth. When training camp gets underway this coming summer, several jobs among the blocking unit will be up for grabs. One of the spots that remains unsettled is the backup center position, where a 2021 seventh-round draft choice will do battle with a lineman who’s entering his third year with the Cards.
With the 247th-overall selection of last month’s NFL Draft, Arizona grabbed Penn State center Michal Menet. The Reading Pennsylvania native, voted team captain by his teammates, started all nine games for the Nittany Lions last year. The rugged Menet earned Third-Team All-Big 10 honors from the coaches and the media for his performance.
Menet’s opponent for the second-string center gig is Lamont Gaillard, a sixth-round pick of the Cardinals back in 2019. The 25-year old appeared in 13 contests for the squad last season, and was credited with two starts. Gaillard stepped in for the now-departed Mason Cole at times, as both players struggled to emerge as the unquestioned anchor of the Cards offensive line in 2020.
Arizona general manager Steve Keim took care of that issue back in May, when he orchestrated a trade for one of the league’s best centers. Rodney Hudson, a three-time Pro Bowler, will handle the club’s starting duties for the foreseeable future. The talented veteran will also serve as an excellent mentor for whoever emerges victorious in the competition between Menet and Gaillard.
As a redshirt junior in 2019, Menet was an All-Big 10 honorable mention. The 6’4, 306 pounder started all 13 of Penn State’s matchups at center, and was once again named a team captain. During his redshirt sophomore campaign back in 2018, Menet handled 12 more starting assignments for the college.
The fight for the backup center job between Menet and Gaillard will be an intriguing one. Hudson, who will turn 32 years of age in July, will not be around forever. Menet would like nothing more than to defeat Gaillard and take over as the anchor of Big Red’s offensive line when Hudson is no longer around.