The Pittsburgh Steelers have a tremendous lineage at the center position. Whether you are talking about Mike Webster, Dermontti Dawson and Maurkice Pouncey, the Steelers always seem to have a rock in the interior of their offensive line. Will Kendrick Green, who was drafted in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, be the next in the long line of great centers?
Former NFL scout Matt Williamson, now of Steelers.com, sees tremendous upside in Green, but isn’t ready to say he will be the team’s starter out of training camp. The team doesn’t have to rush Green into starting at the NFL with B.J. Finney on the roster.
Here is what Williamson said about Green’s potential of being the starter in 2021:
“As with all rookies, there is a lot to yet be determined. But Green is put in a very good situation for success. He has a clear road to becoming Pittsburgh’s long-term starting center, but in the meantime, he doesn’t have to be rushed into that starting role because BJ Finney is a proven commodity that can hold down the fort. Remember, playing center at this level is very challenging from a mental standpoint, although having DeCastro lining up next to Green will sure be helpful on game days during the learning process. Again, Green has huge shoes to fill at this position, but he also has a chance to keeping Pittsburgh’s center lineage intact.”
Williamson went on to describe what Steelers fans should love about Green. He is by far the most athletic center in a very deep center class, and this was all on display during Green’s Pro Day workout at Illinois.
“The two traits you most look for in centers is toughness and smarts. As long as a prospect has a baseline amount of physical traits, guys that are very tough and smart at this position last and are very difficult to get off the field. Green checks both of those boxes without question, but he is also much more than just a baseline athlete. Green has a wrestling background and was a baseball player. Wrestlers are “always-always-tough”, in shape and generally have a great understanding of leverage and hand usage. Green started out as a defensive lineman - a position that demands more athletic ability than the offensive trenches. He then switched to guard at Illinois and is now making the full-time transition to center, a position he has played already, having started several games at the pivot. Green started 33 straight games to finish his college career which also speaks to his durability, toughness, and commitment.
“Green’s workout numbers at Illinois’ Pro Day really are remarkable. At just under 6’ 2” and 305 pounds, Green has a well-built frame and ample arm length and hand size. At that weight, Green ran his 40-yard dash in 4.88 seconds. His jumps were even more impressive - with a 35.5” vertical leap and a broad jump of just under 10 feet in distance. That is really getting off the ground for such a big person and his explosion off the ball is the first thing you notice on tape when studying him on the field. He is also very agile and does a great job in space blocking smaller targets. He has technique work to do in protection, but Green is already an accomplished run blocker with great physical traits. Green also reportedly squats 700 pounds and is great in the weight room.”
If Green is not able to lock down the starting role out of training camp, Steelers fans shouldn’t view him as a wasted pick, or a bust. He very well could be the team’s next great center, but needs some time getting acclimated to the professional game. It should be a reminder to all fans how Dermontti Dawson didn’t start as the Steelers’ center, and in fact was drafted as a guard. He played in eight games and started five of those at right guard his rookie year. It wasn’t until his second season when he became the team’s full-time center.
Nonetheless, if Green can win the center role outright, it would be a tremendous feat not just for Green, but for the Steelers’ offense. In just two months we will all know what the future has in store for the Steelers’ third round pick.
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.