The Miami Dolphins’ depth at center drastically changed after their finals cuts on Tuesday.
Normally, I wouldn’t fret about such moves. But it seems that the Dolphins center position went from having solid depth to being relatively thin.
Because the Dolphins are relying on an unproven starting center and a backup that has fallen to the wayside as his career continued.
Deiter had some experience at center back in his days at Wisconsin, but since being drafted by the Dolphins in 2019, he has become an afterthought as an interior starting lineman.
As a rookie, Deiter played in all 16 games and started 15 as a left guard. But anyone watching that “Tank for Tua” season could tell you that the Dolphins were working with the best of what they had after they cleansed their roster of most of their quality talent.
Deiter was activated for all 16 games last season but started 0. The Dolphins signed center Ted Karras from the New England Patriots during the 2020 free agency period.
So Deiter was mostly forgotten until this year’s offseason came around, and the center competition opened up. Deiter has had a good camp, performed well, yet still unproven at playing a new position after being a disappointment as a rookie at left guard.
Greg Mancz was acquired via trade just 1 day before the Dolphins played their preseason-finale against the Bengals. Mancz went from being a starting center (due to injury) for the Texans back in 2016 but eventually fell back to a primary backup role at center in 2017 once the team’s original starter returned. Mancz made 7 starts at guard that year.
The Texans extended Mancz on a two-year contract from 2018-2020, but he only made 5 starts in the 29 games he was active during that time.
Throughout the 2020 season, Mancz went on and off between the Texans practice squad and the active roster but made no starts while being active for 4 games.
He was then signed onto the Baltimore Ravens practice squad back in January but now finds himself on the Dolphins.
And the Dolphins didn’t give up much to get him— a 2022 6th-rounder.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) September 1, 2021
So those are the two major players the Dolphins currently have as their depth at center— an unproven center in 3rd-year Michael Deiter and Greg Mancz, who has essentially spot-started and fell back to being a fringe-roster body.
What’s interesting here is that the Dolphins released Matt Skura and Cameron Tom, two players that they got a close look at through the entirety of training camp, and let them go before Mancz even had a chance to earn his spot on the roster.
Doesn’t Flores preach competition at every position?
Skura was the most accomplished center on the team. In his 4 years as a Raven, he had 51 starts. 39 of those starts were at the center position before some bad snaps ended his tenure there. But he seemed to be snapping the ball just fine during the preseason and camp.
And having an experienced center like Skura seemed like a good idea to have behind the unproven Deiter. Both from a mentoring aspect and as an insurance policy.
Tom was signed as a camp body that the Dolphins wanted a closer look at. Tom was similar to Mancz in that he spent a lot of time on and off the active roster of the Saints.
So I can understand the Dolphins switching out Tom for Mancz.
But how can they favor Mancz over Skura when Mancz literally just got their 1 day before the team’s final preseason game?
If there is a bright side to this scenario, Mancz has connections to Dolphins co-offensive coordinator George Godsey. Godsey was the offensive coordinator in Houston during 2015-16.
So bringing in Mancz makes some sense. But anointing him as the team’s top replacement over Skura— who made it through the entire preseason at the job until cut day— is really puzzling.
Another positive aspect is that Mancz has time to learn the offense, the protections, the calls and gain chemistry with the rest of the team’s lineman. The Dolphins’ first game is on September 12th.
Behind Mancz, the only other option behind center seems to be the versatile Jesse Davis, who practiced there at times during last year’s offseason. But Davis is looking the be the starting right tackle in 2021 until rookie Liam Eichenberg comes along.