In my opinion, the Miami Dolphins’ biggest hole on their roster entering the 2021 NFL Draft is at center. Miami did sign Matt Skura this offseason, but it was a one-year deal, and Miami does not have a center they can trust to snap the ball to starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after 2021. That is why former University of Wisconsin-Whitewater offensive lineman Quinn Meinerz is the perfect fit at center for the Dolphins.
Meinerz has become the 2021 NFL Draft’s most interesting man. Being a Division III player, his name was not brought up much. However, Meinerz was given the opportunity to compete at the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl.
“The Senior Bowl invite meant everything to me,” Meinerz told me over the phone. “I did everything I could to get invited to the Senior Bowl just because I knew how important it would be in my process. To see the other games get canceled, I knew it would make my opportunities that much smaller. So to be able to get that invite was huge.”
The opportunity was just that, an opportunity. It was up to Meinerz to make the most of it, and he did. Meinerz was the star of the Senior Bowl all week, becoming a national story. He was a DIII player that was dominating some big named division I players at the Senior Bowl. If there was any concern about Meinerz in the NFL, it would be if he could handle the competition, but Meinerz showed he belonged.
Meinerz spoke about his dominant week at the Senior Bowl and said, “It was honestly what is making this entire process go well for me because you know the biggest question for me was the level of competition being a small school prospect. So it was nice to put that question to rest through the Senior bowl. In my first couple of snaps, there were a lot of nerves and tensions. I think that’s how it always is, especially when you’re playing in a game. Those first couple snaps take a little bit to get settled in. I wasn’t able to play football all year, too, since my season was canceled. My confidence was building up really quickly because I thought I would be fighting for my life every single rep, but it turned out I could hold my own and be dominant at times, just kind of how I was at Whitewater. So, my confidence built up, and I had a strong mentality into the practices that week. I wanted to be myself and do what I do. And that’s just how I was able to make the moment not too big and just be who I was.”
The Miami Dolphins coached Quinn Meinerz at the Senior Bowl.
And who Meinerz is makes him such an intriguing option for the Dolphins in the draft. The Dolphins staff coached Meinerz in the Senior Bowl, too, so they got first-hand knowledge of the player he is. Meinerz played guard in college, but he was asked to play center in the Senior Bowl. The story behind his transition from guard to center at the Senior Bowl was epic.
“I was invited really late to the Senior Bowl,” said Meinerz as he talked about his switch from guard to center. “I didn’t know I was playing center until the night before. Coach Lem (Lemuel Jeanpierre) texted me and said, “Hey Quinn, it is coach Lem. I have you written up for center on day 1 and day 2.”
He found out the night before, but that did not stop him from shining. Meinerz showed that not only did he belong with the top dogs at the Senior Bowl, but he also can be a dominant center in the NFL.
Meinerz was able to showcase his skills to the Dolphins, but he also was able to show head coach Brian Flores that he loves the game of football. Meinerz broke his hand and pleaded with Flores to play in the game.
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Meinerz shared what he called “a little inside story” with us. Meinerz said, “I broke my hand and stuff, so I was trying to bribe coach Flores to let me play in the game, but he wasn’t budging. It was a pretty cool experience because I said, “Hey, we can cast it up, and I can play guard. Can I get a couple of series in?” He stopped and looked at me for 20-30 seconds and shook his head, and said, “No.” We ended up coming to an agreement where he let me play on victory formation.”
Moments like that are what separate good players from great players. And that is precisely what Meinerz wants to be in the NFL, a great player.
“I want to become the best offensive lineman I can be,” said Meinerz. “If the position is center or guard, I want to become one of the best centers or guards in the league. I always strive to be the best in anything I try to do. I like to set long-term, big goals.”
Another long-term goal for Meinerz is obviously to be drafted and achieve the ultimate goal of making it to the NFL. For Dolphins fans, adding a player like Meinerz to pair with Tagovailoa for 8+ years would be a dream come true. Meinerz likes the idea as well.
“It would be really cool,” said Meinerz talking about being drafted by Miami. “I would definitely text coach Lem right away and say, “Hey, back to work!” Or something like that to be funny. It would be cool because I already built a little connection with the entire staff, the offensive coordinator, head coach, offensive line coach, the training staff, and everybody. So it would be cool to have that happen, but we will see.”
Meinerz is correct, we will see, but hopefully, we see the Dolphins select the talented center in the 2021 NFL Draft because he is a perfect fit with Miami.