By Jeremy Hritz
Kendrick Green Links
Overview of Kendrick Green, Center
At pick 87 in the third round, the Steelers caught a few people off guard with their selection of Green, as there were not many connections to him in the pre-draft process. While the sentiment was that the Steelers needed a center, Green’s name was not one rumored as being a possibility at the position. To everyone’s surprise, Green was selected, and a need for the Steelers was filled.
Green is athletic. He ran a 4.89 40-yard dash at his Pro Day and has the necessary gear to get to the second level and block faster defenders. He is versatile, playing all of the interior positions on the offensive line, primarily guard, with some experience at center. And most importantly for the Steelers, he is nasty, and this is a trait that has been missing from the front five for some time now. Merging these elements together makes for an intriguing prospect, and one cannot help but feel optimistic about what Green can deliver to the team in 2021.
Strengths of Green
You can teach a lot of things, but you cannot teach attitude, and Green has a ferocious one when it comes to his responsibilities as a blocker. He brings an edge to his play that sends the message to the opponent that it’s going to be a long day. In terms of mindset and mentality, the Steelers are in need of such a nastiness in their blocking unit. With a year under Kevin Dotson’s belt, who possesses a nasty temperament as well, this duo could shape up as force for years to come.
Green is also athletic and can move, evidenced by his testing times and his game film. This will continue the athleticism legacy that Pouncey brought to the position and allow the offense to continue to do unique things like pulling the center for power runs. It is also beneficial in terms of springing backs for bigger gains because Green can attach to a linebacker or defensive back to further clear a lane for a running back, turning a 4-5 yard gain into something more significant if the runner can get past the line of scrimmage.
A better run blocker because of his burst and ability to get off of the ball quickly, Green should help Najee Harris experience success in his first year as a starter.
Areas for Growth for Green
Size and inexperience at center.
Calling a 6’2, 305 pound grown man small seems absurd, but Green does not have the size profile that the Steelers would typically look for in an offensive lineman, not that his size precludes his potential success. While he could add some weight, this may not be ideal as it could delude his athleticism, and in terms of his arm length, he may have some limitations in reaching for blocks or catching pass rushers. It could also be argued that he could be overpowered by massive defensive tackles.
The other concern with Green is that he only has 3 starts at the center position, with the rest of his experience coming at guard. While this can obviously be overcome and is not damning, an adjustment period to not only the NFL game must be expected, but also a continued adjustment to the position has to be anticipated as well. Training camp, preseason games, and flat out reps will be critical in helping to facilitate his comfort with the center position.
How Does Kendrick Green Fit Into the Steelers Depth Chart?
Barring a complete horrid showing in camp, Green should be the starter at the center position on opening day and beyond. The choices of Finney and Hassenaur at center, while they provide experience, cannot provide the athletic tools that Green can. With Pouncey fading over the last few years, Green will be an upgrade at the position and a general boost to the overall offensive line. Whether or not he will be adequate, average, good, or outstanding, will be determined as he accumulates starts.
What Will Kendrick Green Contribute in Year One?
Energy, enthusiasm, grit, nastiness (how many times can I say that in an article?), and selflessness. He should improve what was one of the weakest units on the team, and worst case scenario, he starts a few games into the season, but I see him as the starter in week 1.
Steelers Comparable Player
To be honest, in combing through the past depth charts of Steelers offensive lines, the only name that jumps out to me is Rich Tylski, and Green would be a way more athletic one. But even with that comp, I’m not satisfied with it. Here’s to Green being the first of his kind with the Steelers.
What Did This New Steeler Study?
While Green has not yet graduated, completing only his junior year, he is majoring in Sociology. You can learn more about the Illinois Sociology program HERE.
Yay, Nay, or OK?
YAY all the way. Automatic boost for the offensive line, Green charges up the demeanor of the offensive line. Looking forward to seeing his contributions to the team and Green being the next phenomenal center in Steelers lore.