As we close out the “NFL Christmas” that is the NFL Draft, we are taking a look at some selected players SteelerNation may have not heard about going into the draft. Next up…
Kendrick Green (OG/C), University of Illinois, Redshirt Junior
SELECTED: 3rd Round, 87th Overall
The retirement of long-time offense anchor, Maurkice Pouncey, left a major gap in an already-porous offensive line. Not to mention in an organization (let alone an entire city) that sees the center position as a skill-position, the urgency to find a Pouncey replacement in the draft was major. With the Steelers looking to bring a refreshed physicality to their running game and offensive line, it was no wonder they were looking at a blue-collar, aggressive, bruising player in Kendrick Green from Champaign, Illinois.
Up until his time in college, Green played on the defensive side of the ball. But when he made the transition to offense at Illinois, specifically at the guard position, he flourished. In the 2019 season, he showed some versatility in starting at center for a single game, then continued that by starting three games at center in 2020. Green declared for the 2021 draft as a guard, but expect to see him at the center position for the Steelers.
Green describes himself as an angry, physical, and dominant force at the line of scrimmage. He possesses great strength and burst off the ball and can effectively clear defenders at the line. Green has elite footwork with constant movement in blocking. On running plays, Green can blow defensive linemen off their assignments and can get to the second level in creating a running lane with ease. As I alluded to earlier, Green is incredibly versatile as well. Again, be expected to see him compete for the center position, but don’t be surprised if he fills in at guard should his name be called.
From a physicality and technique standpoint, there are not many weak points for Green. However, looking at his lateral movement, this will be an area of improvement for him. He does have a bit of stiffness in his blocking, and this results in him not being able to finish blocks on extended plays and affects his ability in moving laterally on counter plays and sweeps.
Seeing Green available in the 3rd round was no surprise, given the depth at the offensive tackle, cornerback, and wide receiver positions in this year’s draft. This is not reflective of his performance. Green has a very high ceiling, and I think Steelers’ new offensive line coach, Adrian Klemm, is excited to get to work with him. Green will need to compete with J.C. Hassenauer and B.J. Finney to secure the starting center role, but I see him rising to the challenge. Green is going to be fun to watch in 2021, and in many seasons to come in the Steel City.
How do you think the Steelers did at the 87th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft? Let us know in the comments below!