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Can Kendrick Green gain the consistency needed to be a quality starter?

The Stelers starting center from 2021 will need to take a step forward in his second season if he hopes to retain the job.

Chicago Bears v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t add any offensive linemen in the 2022 NFL draft, although they did sign three UDFAs to the offseason roster. Building the roster via free agency, the Steelers would likely see the biggest jump in production from the line if their young players improve for 2022. One player in particular is 2021 starting center Kendrick Green. But does Green bring enough to the table to be the starter in 2022? This is the subject for this week’s Steelers Vertex.

Let’s get a quick reminder of where this nerdiness is coming from.

Vertex- a single point where two or more lines cross.

Sometimes to make a great point, it takes two different systems of analysis to come together and build off each other in order to drawl a proper conclusion. In this case, the two methods are statistical analysis and film breakdown. Enter Dave Schofield (the stat geek) and Geoffrey Benedict (the film guru) to come together to prove a single point based on our two lines of thinking.

Here comes the breakdown from two different lines of analysis.

The Stats Line:

Once again, the statistics for offensive line are difficult to come by. But as for Kendrick Green‘s rookie season of 2021, he was a rarity for the Pittsburgh Steelers as a player starting his very first game in Week 1 as a third-round draft pick. Green started the first 15 games of the season for the Steelers and played a total of 977 offensive snaps. On the season, Green had six accepted penalties against him, the majority of which were for holding.

When it came to scores by Pro Football Focus, I did all I could to try to make sense of the data and how Green was somewhat all over the charts. Who was playing next to him at left guard was something I looked into, but the number still fluctuated and no pattern emerged. Just to clarify, Kevin Dotson started the first nine games at the left guard next to Green with J.C. Hassenauer getting the next start. B.J. Finney then started two games at left guard for the Steelers but only played three snaps in the second game and was relieved by John Leglue. Leglue held down the position for the remainder of the year.

While it would be an easy explanation to see if Green had scores that lined up with his various teammates, they simply did not. His overall PFF score for the season was 52.4 with a 50.7 grade for pass blocking and a 54.7 mark for run blocking. Green’s best game of the season according to PFF was in Week 4 against the Green Bay Packers with an overall score of 77.2, a pass blocking score of 68.0, and a season-high 80.5 run blocking score. Green’s best pass blocking score on the season came in Week 9 against the Chicago Bears.

As for his worst games of the season, Green was very inconsistent as he had scores in the 40s in Week 5, Week 14, and Week 16.

Looking at the stats, the biggest thing that stands out about Kendrick Green’s rookie season is inconsistent play from week to week. Perhaps a little bit more will come into focus after looking at the film.

The Film Line:

Kendrick Green was incredibly inconsistent, mostly because his technique was inconsistent. But instead of trying to show that, I wanted to focus on what he was more consistently good at.

Steelers at Bills, 1st quarter, 13:30.

Kendrick Green is the center.

This is Kendrick Green’s first NFL snap. You can see his athleticism in his burst to aid Trai Turner and the impact he has on the defensive tackle that leads to a pancake block. He gets to the linebacker and gives Najee Harris a bit more room in his run.

Steelers at Bills, 3rd quarter, 14:59.

Kendrick Green is the center.

This time Green also shows off his tenacity as he picks up the block started by Trai Turner and ends up folding the defender backwards in his quest to finish the block.

These two blocks show Kendrick Green’s upside, He covers ground quickly and converts his quickness into a good first strike when he meets his target. He has a nasty streak and once he gets an advantage, he likes to make his opponent pay for it.

These were from his first NFL game, and it wasn’t a bad game for the rookie at all. You can see why the Steelers wanted to get him involved early on a team that was hoping to be a much improved rushing team.

Steelers at Browns, 2nd quarter, 5:34.

Kendrick Green is the center.

Kendrick Green, in the middle of the season, was part of a line that seemed to be developing into a solid unit. His main strength is still on his combo blocks, and you can see the left side of the offensive line was starting to dominate. Anytime the Steelers got Kendrick Green moving forward before having to block he did really well, and that makes him especially good on these combo blocks.

Steelers at Vikings, 2nd quarter, 2:20.

Kendrick Green is the center.

But even when Green wasn’t just helping, he often was up to the task. Here Green matches the defender and stays with them, staying on the block until he has to let the defender go to avoid a holding call.

Kendrick Green shows potential when he is able to use his athleticism and tenacity to attack defenders.

Steelers at Browns, 2nd quarter, 4:07.

Kendrick Green is the center.

The problems were when Green wasn’t attacking the defender, but had to use technique to slow down and absorb defenders. This clip shows really well how badly he loses first contact here, and while he is able to steer the rush away from Ben Roethlisberger, you can see the difference when Green was attacking and when he was not.

The Point:

For the future, the Steelers have to hope that Kendrick Green can improve his technique and become a complete offensive lineman. It is also worth noting that offensive line coach Pat Meyer is all about his lineman being aggressive and attacking defenders instead of waiting and trying to counter the defender’s attack. That may have a favorable impact on Kendrick Green’s chances of becoming a quality NFL starter. With multiple options on the interior offensive line for 2022, training camp and the preseason will be interesting to watch. If Kendrick Green is the starter come September, it should be due improved and consistent play rather than being the only viable option.