If there is one player the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base isolated throughout the 2021 season who they felt was a huge reason for the offense’s failures, it would be rookie Kendrick Green. Green, who only played a handful of games at center during his Senior season at Illinois, was thrust into the starting role in his first year as a professional. Would it have been ideal to allow Green to sit and learn before starting? Absolutely, but this wasn’t the case for the Steelers in 2021.
Green’s play was considered so bad many are wondering what his role on the team will be in 2022. Should he be moved to guard, or just be considered interior line depth at both interior offensive line positions?
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at his overall grades for his rookie season, per Pro Football Focus (PFF). We should all remember PFF grades are completely subjective, and in no way should be taken as gospel. However, it does provide some idea as the his overall body of work this past season.
Kendrick Green PFF Grades
Pass blocking: 50.7
Run blocking: 54.7
60.0 is considered an average score for PFF, so Green’s overall performance was certainly below average, but this is far from breaking news. The question at this point isn’t to constantly dwell and harp on his performance last season, but to look ahead and decipher what his role might be in 2022 and beyond.
This week Kevin Colbert met with media, and was asked about Green’s play last year, as well as where he sees him in the future.
“When we drafted Kendrick, we knew that he had spent the majority of his college career at guard.” Colbert said. “We saw him play enough center that we thought that it could be his position of the future. Kendrick did a lot of good things for us, and when he hurt his calf he wasn’t benched because of inefficient play. He was benched because he was hurt, and he actually dressed and was available in an emergency role even though he wasn’t 100 percent. J.C. (Hassenauer) went in and did a nice job. We came out of it saying, ‘Let’s let Kendrick get healthy and get right.’”
There will be a vast majority of Steelers fans who will view Colbert’s comments as simply blowing smoke. How could they suggest Green did “a lot of good things” when almost anyone who watched the games saw something completely different on a week-in and week-out basis?
Nonetheless, the obvious follow up to Colbert’s initial statement is regarding Green’s future. If the General Manager’s (GM) previous comments gave Green a jolt of confidence from the organization, that confidence might be dashed in the next statement.
“We know that Kendrick can play guard. We know that he can play center.” Colbert added. “Is it our best option? We’ll see where we go in these next few months, because we don’t know the options that are going to be available to us.”
As a player, the best-case scenario when hearing comments from the GM would be a resounding statement which might look/read something like this:
“Kendrick might have had some rough spots in 2021, but we view him as our starting center moving forward.”
This statement would give Green the confidence needed heading into the offseason which has him knowing where he stands within the organization. Instead, Colbert left the door open for the team to add to the center position in some capacity. No one is blaming Colbert for saying this, in fact, most are probably celebrating what he said.
If the Steelers choose to acquire a center and/or guard this offseason, in some way, to compete with Green, that is what great organizations do. Not all picks turn into starters, and putting your best roster on the field is priority No. 1 every offseason. The problem then would be evaluating the 3rd round pick of Green if he becomes nothing more than the next B.J. Finney, a depth piece along the interior offensive line.
A lot can change in an offseason, and it will be interesting to see not only what the Steelers do in both the draft and free agency, but how Green responds. Either way, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they prepare for the new league year and the 2022 NFL Draft.