Michael Deiter had a rough rookie year and faces a new position with the Miami Dolphins.
After being drafted in the third round of the 2019 NFL draft, Wisconsin guard Michael Deiter had a less than stellar rookie season. Coming out for the draft in 2019, Deiter was regarded as an athletic and powerful mover who gets to the second level with ease and creates running lanes. His rookie year showed some instances of that, but was otherwise disappointing.
No one is excusing Deiter for playing poorly, but there were certainly some external contributing factors. Rookie guards hope to get the benefit of playing in between veterans at tackle and center who can help them before, during, and after the play. That was not the case for Miami’s third-round pick.
At left tackle, Miami had J’Marcus Webb and Julien Davenport each start eight games. Neither of those players are starting-caliber tackles. In fact, most teams would not even have them as swing tackles to be used as depth. Webb was a street free agent signed mere days before kickoff. Davenport was acquired via trade about a week before kickoff against the Baltimore Ravens. Not only were they absolutely horrid on the field, neither was the left tackle that Deiter worked with throughout the off-season, training camp, and the preseason. He went from Laremy Tusil for a few months to these two guys. Continuity is everything for an offensive line. The 2019 Dolphins line was a bad revolving door.
At center, at least Deiter had some form of consistency next to him. Veteran Daniel Kilgore was at the pivot spot for all of the off-season and preseason. He started 13 games next to Deiter. For the three games that Kilgore was out with a knee injury, Evan Boehm filled in. Neither of them played particularly well. However, there was a noticeable improvement when Kilgore returned in mid-November, which is when the Dolphins offense finally unlocked after the offensive line had some continuity.
Earlier this week it was announced that the Dolphins will try Michael Deiter at center. The change does not guarantee him a starting spot with Miami signing former Patriots center Ted Karras. However, Karras is on a one year, $3 million deal. Deiter could either learn the position again for a year under Karras (he started a handful of games at center in college), or he could really challenge him for the starting job.
Film Review: Week 10 @ Colts
The Colts game may have been Deiter’s best game of the season. He showed all the flashes that the Dolphins had been hoping to see. He held up nice in pass protection and was able to lock horns a few times. He showed his power in the run game on multiple instances. His lack of length is noticeable on a few plays and he had a holding penalty in the second quarter that was easily avoidable. Finally, he had about five or six pulling plays that really showed off his athleticism.
Film Review: Week 16 VS Bengals
In pass protection, Deiter got moved backward a lot by defensive linemen, but was able to hold up for the most part. He had some very nice double teams with Kilgore, which was not the case in the early weeks of the season. He showed some flashes of his anchor in pass protection. Ryan Fitzpatrick being a veteran helped him a lot, as Fitzpatrick turned a lot of potential sacks into positive plays with his feel for the rush. His worst play was a third down that would have put the game away for good. He completely missed a blitzing linebacker who made the tackle for a loss. Miami won the game, but it was a truly bad play in that situation.
Deiter may have lost his starting job at guard, but has an opportunity to win the job at center. He’s athletic and can get to the second level better than most centers, much like former Dolphin Mike Pouncey. It is likely that Karras outplays him in the truncated training camp of 2020. Deiter will not get enough reps at center to really grow into the position. If he does play well, however, he has a great chance to win the job. Miami would much rather get value out of a third-round pick as opposed to rolling with a veteran on a one year deal.