The Miami Dolphins addressed their defensive line in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, adding Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. After trading their second-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals as part of the deal that landed quarterback Josh Rosen in South Florida, Miami still had one glaring hole on the roster. They needed to add offensive linemen to the roster, and they did in the third round. With the 78th overall pick, the Dolphins selected Wisconsin offensive lineman Michael Deiter.
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein profiled Deiter pre-Draft, writing, “Durable, capable guard/center prospect who knows how to play the game but might lack the athletic elements needed to become a full-time starter on the next level. Dieter’s experience in a variety of pro-style rushing schemes and his overall technique work are in his favor while his experience across the line offer flexibility that could lock him into an NFL roster as an early backup with the potential to step in and start if needed.”
Zierlein does not sound that high on Deiter. But what about the people who watched him throughout his three seasons on the field at Wisconsin? We turned to SB Nation’s Wisconsin site, Bucky’s 5th Quarter, and Owen Riese for a closer look at Deiter. Riese was kind enough to answer my questions of a player who could be a day-one starter for the Dolphins this year.
Deiter was a jack-of-all trades in college, playing tackle, guard, and center for Wisconsin. Where did he excel and where do you think he will best play in the NFL?
I think ultimately, although he was able to play tackle effectively at the college level, Michael Deiter is at his best on the interior, probably at guard. He’s a dominant run blocker, both excelling in his technique as well as his ability to maul defenders. He’s also a solid blocker at the second level. I think like most Wisconsin offensive linemen, he’s much more effective moving forwards than he is backwards. Pass protection is certainly not a liability, but it’s still developing. What he has working for him in that regard, however, is that playing all of those positions, he’s had to block Nick Bosa, Rashan Gary, Gerald Willis, Maurice Hurst and others from all across the offensive line. He’s seen NFL level defenders and held his own, so his outlook is encouraging.
Deiter was originally considered a third-day prospect, but eventually moved himself up to a third-round grade, matching exactly where the Dolphins selected him. What contributed to this climb?
I’d actually argue that Deiter fell to the 3rd round. I had always thought of him as a Top 100 prospect, but I had thought prior to the season that he had a chance to sneak into the end of the first round. However, Wisconsin didn’t have the year they had hoped for in 2018 and a very average pre-draft process just cemented to me what Deiter is and has been: rock solid. He’s likely never going to be an All-Pro, but Deiter is very consistent and will only continue to improve as a professional. To me, he’s always been the best NFL prospect on Wisconsin’s offensive line, and that showed in the draft compared to what the NFL thought of the other offensive linemen.
What areas of weakness will be a concern early in his career?
I mentioned it a bit earlier, and if he does have a weakness, it’s as a pass blocker. He’s displayed the ability to anchor on bull rushes, but he’s always going to struggle with speed and the elite athleticism we’re seeing from interior defensive linemen in the NFL commonly in this era. Deiter does a nice job trusting his footwork and maintaining his half-man relationship in pass protection, but his punch will need to continue to improve so he’s not catching rushers as often as he did at Wisconsin.
If he is asked to start day one, will he be ready?
I think he is. Michael Deiter started 54 games at Wisconsin along three positions and never missed a game. He’s as well coached as any offensive lineman you’re going to get, coming from the Badgers. I would have no qualms asking Deiter to start week one. Clearly, he’s going to need to continue to get game reps, and I think playing him a bit more than normal in the preseason would help that process, but Michael Deiter should be a quality starting guard or center for the Dolphins for a decade.