There were doubts about how Silva would cope in England when he joined Chelsea on a free transfer but the 36-year-old Brazilian has been a revelation at Stamford Bridge.
Silva has brought his authority and leadership to a Chelsea backline that struggled last season and has helped them address their defensive weaknesses under Frank Lampard.
The veteran defender returned to the Chelsea team against Rennes in the Champions League on Wednesday and Cole has hailed his impact in west London.
Cole, working as a pundit for BT Sport, said: “He has been one of the great defenders of our generation, but at 36 you worry.
“Traditionally players at that age coming into the Premier League, it is very difficult. The Premier League is a different beast now.
“He was not fit at the start of the season and Frank did not want to throw him in.
“He needed time to get into it and now he looks like a Rolls Royce and one of the best centre-halves in the league.
“I do not think they make centre-halves like him anymore. Apart from Van Dijk, I would say he is the best in the League. He has brought so much quality, on the pitch and off the pitch.
“For [Antonio] Rudiger, [Kurt] Zouma and [Andreas] Christensen next to him, he is a standard bearer. That is the level you want to get at if you want to class yourself as a world-class centre-half.”