It’s time for the Pittsburgh Steelers Sophomore Spotlight Series. During this series we’ll be taking a look at Pittsburgh’s second year players to determine their standing with the team, what their role might be in 2022-23, and how big of an impact they can have in year two.
Kendrick Green – Interior Offensive Line
2021-22 Season Review
The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Kendrick Green in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Green was selected to be the day one starting center after long-time center Maurkice Pouncey retired. Kendrick Green started the first 15 games at center last year for the Steelers. It took an injury to hold him out of the lineup for the last two games of the season.
To say Green struggled last year would be an understatement. As an undersized player (6’1, 305 pounds) he had an adjustment to make going from the Big 10 to the AFC North. Green also struggled with the full time transition to center and had issues with snapping the football. Both the actual act of snapping, and also being ready to block after the snap. While Pittsburgh brass touted him as a day one ready to play center, Green only started five games in college at the position. He recently admitted he didn’t enjoy his time at the position last year.
Green mostly struggled last year in pass protection. While he has plenty of pure strength his lack of size and poor play technique led to a bad anchor. This led to him being pushed back into the pocket regularly. His balance issues also led to Green missing blocks in both the pass and run game. These struggles led to a PFF rating 52.4 overall grade.
2022-23 Season Outlook
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a few days into training camp, and Kendrick Green is in competition for a starting spot. However that spot is not center. After signing Mason Cole to a three-year contract the writing was on the wall that Green was done at center. Instead he is battling Kevin Dotson for the starting left guard spot, Green’s primary position in college.
Green has alternated days with Dotson getting first team reps at left guard through the first four days of training camp. He has gotten no time at center. I originally thought we’d see Green get work at both positions, becoming a backup swing interior lineman. But with four linemen getting work at center it seems Green could be guard-only moving forward.
But having 15 NFL starts at center could prove enough to get him the nod as a backup in the future. This will be important for Green both this year, and moving forward. While I don’t think the Steelers would cut Green in year two or even three, a backup who can only play guard usually isn’t long for the league. And we shouldn’t write off the chance Green could win the starting job at left guard – although it’s likely Dotson’s job to lose.
I’m expecting Green to be on this roster in 2022-23, but not in the starting lineup. He will be the “first man up” if someone is needed at guard, but is likely only seeing action at center in an emergency.
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