Florham Park, N.J. - It's been a long journey for offensive lineman Dakota Dozier. This upcoming season will be Dozier's third in the league after going in the fourth-round of the 2014 NFL Draft. However, he did not appear in any games as a rookie due to his transition from tackle to guard. In his sophomore season, he appeared in five games as a guard. Now he's making the transition to center for the Jets.
Dozier has never played center in a live game, but practice in the offseason is what's key to molding him into that spot. "It's been really good for me to get all these OTA reps just so I can feel as comfortable as possible," Dozier said.
Not often do you see an offensive lineman move from one spot to another, let alone move once again. However, head coach Todd Bowles has seen something from him when he first came in. "He's short. He's compact. He can play both spots [guard and center]," Bowles said last offseason.
Besides the quarterback spot, the center must be one of the vocal presences on the offensive side of the ball. He can point out what he sees on the defensive side of the ball if no one spots it and is in control of the line. "It clicked in my head early that I need to make these calls," Dozier said. "Especially these OTAs, I've been able to be really vocal, give the guys the call so we could all be on the same page and get the job done."
Dozier has a lot of work ahead of him in order to be ready for training camp, but he'll be under the wing of Nick Mangold, one of the best centers in the league. Mangold is coming off his seventh Pro Bowl season, and has over 150 games of experience under his belt and Dozier has been leaning on every bit of that experience.
"If anything happens a certain way on the field, I could come back to him," Dozier said about learning from Mangold. "It's just amazing to have any help from him at all."
The future is bright for a young Dozier and he's taking it one step at a time.
"I just want to, in general, keep getting better and better everyday."