The Miami Dolphins spent the last decade struggling to improve an offensive line that has been a bottom-tier unit for quite some time.
The team added one of the offseason’s top free agents in left tackle Terron Armstead, but also bolstered the interior of the unit with the addition of guard Connor Williams, who signed a two-year deal after spending four years with the Dallas Cowboys.
Most speculated that Armstead and Williams would lockdown the left side of a unit that hasn’t been higher than 26th in run-block rating for more than a decade, according to Pro Football Focus.
Coach Mike McDaniel met with the media on Thursday and discussed the addition of Williams, and how things have changed since he signed with Miami on March 15.
“We weren’t signing him to be a center,” McDaniel said on Thursday. “We were signing offensive linemen.”
However, Williams is getting reps ahead of Michael Deiter as the team’s starting center early in training camp.
“We thought his skill would best be utilized at the center position,” McDaniel said. “We think this is a good offensive linemen who can play multiple positions. That’s why those type of signings are intriguing. He will do everything to do the best he can at that position.
“But if the team is better off [with him] at another position, he’s learning the offense from inside out from the best position to do that, which is the center position.”
Deiter started eight games at center last season, including Miami’s final six games of the season. He was penalized three times and allowed just one sack in his third season after being drafted in the third round of the 2019 NFL draft.
Back to Thursday, McDaniel shared a bit of what he’s looking for in a center, and why giving Williams the reps is a good idea.
“You want someone that can really move. In an ideal world, you can do the best job attacking the defense if you have some athleticism at the position and some strength,” he said, “It’s close quarters; it’s as close to the ball as any player on the line of scrimmage. They have to make line calls that four other players are depending on, so we’re all on the same page.
“That’s why Connor was attractive to us. He’s house money - an NFL guard or center.”
The Dolphins are set to open the season at home against the Patriots on Sept. 11 and plenty can change before then. However, if Williams secures the center position, Liam Eichenberg and Solomon Kindley will likely battle for the starting job at left guard — assuming Robert Hunt and Austin Jackson can hold down the right side of the unit.
You can find out more from McDaniel’s press conference on Thursday right here.