The 2021 NFL offseason was very different for the Pittsburgh Steelers and a number of teams around the NFL. With the salary cap taking a big hit and declining for the first time since it was implemented in 1994, the Steelers were not able to fill all of their obvious needs through free agency and had to rely on the NFL draft. Two of the biggest needs were running back and center, positions to Steelers addressed in two of the first three picks.
The Steelers used their third-round draft pick on center Kendrick Green, the highest selection of an offensive lineman since they selected David DeCastro in 2012. There were a number of options for the Steelers at center in the draft that were dependent on where the Steelers felt comfortable utilizing their pick on the position.
So what happened to all the centers that were taken in the 2021 NFL draft?
It can be a little tricky when it comes to classifying interior offensive linemen as some were projected to be guards versus centers. The following list of centers drafted in 2021 comes from drafttek.com and they are top players at the position for 2021. Of the 23 players they had listed at center, nine of them were selected in the draft. Here are those nine players listed in the order they were selected in the 2021 NFL draft.
Round 2, Pick 37
It didn’t take a Dickerson long to find his way into the starting lineup in Philadelphia as he came off the bench Week 2 of his rookie season and started in the Week 3. In two years, Dickerson has started 30 of the 31 games which appeared with 13 coming as a rookie and 17 in his second season. But none of them were at center as Dickerson has completely made the transition to guard. But in doing so, Dickerson earned his first Pro Bowl in 2022 as he awaits to play in his first Super Bowl on February 12.
Green Bay Packers
Round 2, Pick 62
Many were surprised that Josh Myers went off the board before Creed Humphrey, but the Packers got their starting center from his very first game. Unfortunately, Myers suffered an injury and landed on IR and missed a large portion of his rookie season. Myers did return for Week 18 and the Packers playoff game his first season which rolled into 17 games with 17 starts in 2022 with 16 of the 17 games having Myers seeing 100% of the offensive snaps.
Kansas City Chiefs
Round 2, Pick 63
I wanted Creed Humphrey in Pittsburgh so bad I was hoping they would take him in the first round. When they still passed him in the second round, I didn’t understand. When it comes to Humphrey in Kansas City, he has started every game of his NFL career as well as coming in third in the voting for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2021. In 2022, Humphrey was named to the Pro Bowl and Second Team All-Pro and his headed to the Super Bowl.
Round 3, Pick 87
I don’t know if the Steelers simply didn’t want to take a center in their first two picks or if they were eying Kendrick Green the whole time. Ranked as the 12th best center by drafttek, Green did not have many games at the position on his résumé. But in looking at his physical attributes, it seemed like he could do at the center position what the Steelers typically look for. With no other real threat to start, Green was basically handed the position in training camp. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Greene got bullied off the line his rookie season and seemed unable to master making the offensive calls necessary at the center position. After starting 15 games his rookie season before getting injured, Green made the Steelers 53-man roster in 2022 but was inactive every single game.
Round 3, Pick 99
It wasn’t long after the Steelers selected Green that the Broncos drafted Meinerz. But much like Landon Dickerson, he made the transition to guard right away. Meinerz appeared in 15 games with nine starts as a rookie and started Week 1 of 2022. Unfortunately, Meinerz missed four games after injuring his hamstring in the season opener. Meinerz returned to play 100% of the snaps in the remaining games with the exception of Week 15 where he left the game early with an eye injury.
Round 4, Pick 114
Although he appeared in every game his rookie season, Drew Dalman was relegated to mostly special teams and did not have a single start for the Falcons. But in the year two, Dalman started all 17 games at center for the Falcons and didn’t miss a snap the entire season.
Round 6, Pick 191
When drafting a center in the sixth round, having him stick for his first two seasons as the backup is a fairly good result. Trey Hill had to make three spot starts his rookie season while appearing in 13 games. As for 2022, he’ll only saw seven offensive snaps as a reserve but played special teams in 11 games.
Las Vegas Raiders
Round 7, Pick 231
As a seventh-round pick, Morrissey did not make the Raiders 53-man roster his rookie season but was signed to the team’s practice squad. A few weeks later, Morrissey was poached off the practice squad by the Houston Texans where he appeared in five games with four starts his rookie season. Making the roster again in 2022, Morrissey appeared in eight games but with no starts.
Round 7, Pick 247
The last center taken into the 2021 NFL draft, Michael Menet did not make the 53-man roster but was signed originally to the Cardinals practice squad. Menet was released a week later and resigned to the practice squad for another week at the very end of September. In December, the Packers signed Menet to their practice squad where he remained for the remainder of the season and landed once again for 2022. Menet has not signed a Reserve/Future contract in the NFL for 2023 as he is currently on the roster of the Seattle Sea Dragons of the XFL.
When it comes to the centers drafted in the 2021 NFL draft, five were selected on Day 2 in round two and three. Of those five players, two of them made the switch to guard while another, Kendrick Greene, did not play in 2022. Two players who came out as centers were selected to the Pro Bowl this past season with Landon Dickerson doing so at guard. Additionally, those two players are preparing to face off in Super Bowl LVII.
When it came to the Day 3 pics at center in 2021, Drew Dalman was taken early in the day and turned into a full-time starter in his second season. The three players taken in the final two rounds of the draft have two who are regular reserve players while the other has strictly been on practice quads.
After looking at how everything turned out, it’s quite painful for Steelers fans on how badly they missed at the center position in the 2021 NFL draft. Kendrick Greene ended up not being able to adjust to the center position and simply doesn’t have the measurables to be a successful NFL guard. Green will likely struggle to find any playing time next season if he even makes the Steelers roster.
With perfect hindsight, what should the Steelers have done in the 2021 NFL draft? Should they have pulled the trigger on one of the other three centers in the second round and passed on tight end Pat Freiermuth? Should they have opted for Quinn Meinerz or Drew Dalman instead? Make sure you leave your thoughts in the comments below.