The Pittsburgh Steelers fan base can certainly be a fickle bunch. On top of that, there are certain players who draw the ire of the fan base regularly. You can call them a punching bag, whipping boy or the dead horse everyone loves to beat. If you pay attention to the fan narrative after 2021 a player who would fall into the aforementioned categories would be none other than Kendrick Green.
This article is not to suggest Green wasn’t deserving of criticism. Trust me, anyone who watched the games saw plenty of flaws in his game which deserved to be pointed out. However, it should be noted how the organization decided to go into the 2021 season with Green and J.C. Hassenauer as the viable options at the center position.
Think about that for a second. A guy who had less than 10 starts at center in college being thrust into the starting role at the game’s highest level. No wonder Kevin Colbert spoke about regretting not adding some veterans to the offensive line in 2021. Colbert did give Green a boost of confidence heading into 2022 prior to the start of free agency.
“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.’”
If you like Pro Football Focus (PFF) grades, here is where Green graded out in 2021:
Kendrick Green PFF Grades
Pass blocking: 50.7
Run blocking: 54.7
For those who don’t know, the grade of 60 is considered average. But PFF grades aside, if you are someone who doesn’t want anything to do with Green, and plenty on Twitter fall into this category, understand he will have a role on this team in 2022 and beyond.
Why? Well, for plenty of reasons.
First, he was a 2021 third round draft pick. The Steelers value the players they draft, and will almost always stick with them throughout the duration of their rookie contracts. There are cases of players not making the roster, but Day 1 and Day 2 picks have staying power within the organization. This doesn’t ensure they will be starters, but they certainly will have a roster spot. Call it the team not wanting to admit a swing and miss in the draft, but players rarely get cut when they are a high draft pick.
Next, can you truly judge a player’s entire professional career after one year, especially when most would argue he was playing out of position? Can you honestly say there is no chance Green, or anyone for that matter, can’t improve to the point where they became a valuable asset to the team/position group moving forward?
Last, despite the Steelers acquiring both James Daniels and Mason Cole in free agency, Green will either win the starting guard/center job, or be used as valuable interior offensive line depth. Either way, Green will be have a role on this team one way or another.
There are fans who are fed up with Green, and it’s understandable. Everyone loved the thought of a third round pick being the next great Steelers center in a long line of centers. Green has yet to write his full story as both a professional football player and member of the Steelers, but the Steelers will likely have a spot for Green along the offensive line, in some capacity, for the foreseeable future.
My condolences to those who can’t tolerate any more of Kendrick Green.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of NFL free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft.