It’s not easy to gain recognition as an offensive lineman. It’s even harder to do so as a center. And it’s almost impossible to do it as a center on a bad offense.
Travis Frederick of the Cowboys was the first-team All-Pro center in 2016, based on voting from the AP, PFW, and PFF. Alex Mack of the Falcons was the 2nd-team choice from the APP and PFF. Dallas and Atlanta, of course, had two of the best three offenses in the NFL this year.
Since the merger, 31 of the 47 first-team All-Pro centers (based on the AP team) played for teams that ranked in the top 10 in passing efficiency, as measured by Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt. Just five of the 47 selections played for offenses that ranked 20th or worse in ANY/A, and all five played for the Jets or Steelers: Mike Webster (1983, Pittsburgh, 26th), Dermontti Dawson (1998, Pittsburgh, 28th), Kevin Mawae (1999, Jets, 20th), Mangold (2009, Jets, 27th), and Mangold again (2010, Jets, 20th). Here’s where the AP 1AP center’s team ranked in ANY/A each year:
Jets fans haven’t been very lucky, but they have been lucky when it comes to great center play. Like the Steelers transition from Webster to Dawson, the Jets have been blessed with Hall of Fame caliber play at the center position for a long time, as Mangold followed Kevin Mawae and his stellar run for Gang Green. Mangold isn’t yet retired, so he still has time to build a Hall of Fame case.
When you look at the teams with the best history of All-Pro center play since the merger, the Steelers clearly stand out. Webster (5), Dawson (6), Jeff Hartings (1), and Maurkice Pouncey (2) have combined for 14 AP choices. And while the Dolphins are next — Jim Langer and Dwight Stephenson each have four selections — the Jets are third (5), and join the Steelers as the only franchises with three or more All-Pro centers since the merger. In addition to Mawae (2) and Mangold (2), Joe Fields was an All-Pro center in ’82, and a 12-year starter for the team.