When a coach is promoted to running a unit, it can bring with a lot of pressure. Pressure to deliver in every sense of the word. For Adrian Klemm, the new Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach, this is his first shot at being the man in charge of the big guys up front. And the 2021 NFL Draft was his first opportunity to bring in talent which fits his system.
With those two picks, he chose Kendrick Green, center/guard from Illinois, in the 3rd round, and Dan Moore Jr., offensive tackle from Texas A&M, in the 4th round. It was a glimpse into what Klemm wants to see in his offensive line.
But do these two player embody the future of the offensive line? Here is what Klemm had to say about the players, and why they were drafted by the Steelers.
“Just really excited about KG [Kendrick Green]. That’s a guy we had our eye on.” Klemm said. “We love the way that he plays in terms of what we have been talking about and in terms of changing our demeanor. Just the type of attitude that we want to carry onto the field, he embodies all of that. He has great leadership qualities. He was an alpha in that program, and he is just a tremendous player. He can do it all. The pulls, physical in the run game, pass protect, all those different things. I’m just really ecstatic to coach him going forward.
When you see a coach talk about “demeanor” and how the player drafted was an “alpha” in the offensive line room in college, those are pretty demonstrative terms to use when talking about the change you want to see up front. In fact, it was Green’s nastiness which caught Klemm’s attention.
“I think people like to say they can teach it, but I think it is inherently in you. Like some people just naturally have that—as a coach you can be demanding of it, but in critical moments of a game when man measures man, whoever you truly are is going to come out. If you have that dog in you, that wolf in you, you are going to continue to do that in critical moments of the game. I love it when I find a guy that I don’t have to bring that out of. He’s just naturally like that, he carries himself that way, he plays with that nastiness at that position. This is just a guy that can do that. We have a number of guys in our group that can do that. Even if they can’t do it, we are going to demand all they have and more and try to get all that we can out of it. I’m really excited about it and in terms of what we’re talking about doing here embodies all of that.”
To continue with green as a prospect, it was clear Klemm did his homework on the young man. He didn’t just rely on Zoom calls, meetings with coaches or pro day workouts. Instead, he went above and beyond and spoke with people around the program, all trying to get a feel if he is the right fit for the black and gold.
“It’s not just the things that I’ve heard from the coaches, I’ve talked to his coach and people around his program, but also the place he trains now I know the guy he works out for. And just talking to other guys he has played with in the past and just see him interact with people at his pro day and how people follow him. He had a commanding presence. When he walked in a room, he didn’t need to say much, he just came in and changed the energy in the room.” Klemm added. “Just talking to him. Some people are a little bit timid. He wasn’t. He just really embraced the moment. He was energized by the moment. There was no nervousness or anything like that. It goes beyond just the play. It’s just the way a man carries himself when he walks in a room and he just has that. He walks and he commands respect. It’s pretty impressive, I like it.”
As for Moore, his position, and demeanor, is different than Green. Tackles have to be more of a technician when it comes to protecting the edge. But don’t let that fool you, Klemm sees many of the same characteristics he sees in Green, in Moore.
“Yeah, I mean guys can be a certain way off the field and can turn it up on the field. This is a guy that is more than capable of being nasty, and playing physically, finishing, and all of those types of things.” Klemm said about Moore. “You hear some of the things Mel Kiper say talking about physicality, I mean, that guy has finished and pounded people in the dirt. You know, sometimes schematically what people are asked to do at the collegiate level or the NFL level, sometimes you can’t do certain things because it’s not within that scheme, but there’s plays that we’ve seen him finish guys off and do the extra, and take guys to the sideline and all that. It’s not flashes. He plays consistently at a high level with a high motor. I’m really excited about that. It’s always exciting when you don’t have to beg a guy to do those things. He does that naturally.”
Some view Moore as a project, but Klemm doesn’t see Moore as that, and lauded his NFL-readiness level heading into the 2021 regular season.
“You’re just looking for guys that are athletic, can do things they are asked of, show some physicality that show a high level of competitive spirit, that can play with poise, and just want to compete. Those are things you are projecting. Maybe it’s only a guy that’s played 12 games, but anytime you have something like this with these guys with 30 plus game starters in big time conferences, that is a positive. It’s not something you’re necessarily looking for, but it is a definite positive that you take into account when you’re evaluating these guys.”
Whether Green or Moore pan out as long term starters for the Steelers has yet to be seen. However, there is no doubt Klemm made it crystal clear what he looks for when he is looking to add players to the offensive front. Experience is key, and nastiness is never a bad thing. I think we can all agree the Steelers could use more of the latter to improve their running game in 2021.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2021 regular season.