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Steelers Analysis

The Steelers and Kendrick Green Were Never a Fit



Steelers Kendrick Green
Pittsburgh Steelers center Kendrick Green against the Buffalo Bills, Aug. 19, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Kendrick Green is gone. The Steelers traded Green away to the Houston Texans for a 2025 sixth-round pick. A former third-round pick, Green never got his legs back after struggling in his rookie season. But the timeline always seemed off anyway. Did Pittsburgh’s vision align with what Green could do on the field and who he was as a player out of Illinois?

Green had to go to an outside zone-heavy team that would allow his athleticism in space to shine. But Pittsburgh asked him to displace defensive linemen on down blocks far too often in the vision of the offense they wanted to run. His lack of length hurt him right from the jump, but he never had a chance to master hand technique, timing, or location by spattering around from center to guard and back to center.

I think it’s genuinely hard to know just how Green would have panned out in the right situation. Pittsburgh never was that, and they threw him into the starting role at center in his rookie year when he was never ready for that level of play. In an aspect, Pittsburgh should have signed a veteran and let Green sit to take on the position at an NFL level and work on his hand technique.

The change in offensive line coaches from his rookie season to his second year gave Kendrick Green little help in his career. But he was a guy who needed to go to a specific scheme and style of play to pop and blossom. Pittsburgh never embraced the type of skill set Green required to pop in the NFL with his athleticism. By moving him around and throwing him to the wolves, the barrage of signals Green received in his rookie season and into his second likely slowed much of the development he could have worked upon.

When the team moved to loving jump sets and a hands-on first mentality with Meyer at the helm, Green lost as a result. His length never could overcome the circumstances at that point, and with consistent late hands, Green’s hips would rise, causing his pads to swell, and that is why you would see him knocked back so often. Hand usage and timing are so different from center to guard, and the fact that Green, who is a natural left guard, bounced to center to start his NFL career and then got moved hurt him tremendously.

With a lack of a proper fit and continuity, Green never locked in like the Steelers wanted him to fit into the puzzle. Cutting the losses at this point for a sixth-round pick is worth it and an excellent job by Omar Khan to recoup any value. Truth to be told, Green may not have worked out elsewhere, but with the flurry of moves and philosophies the Steelers embraced around him, the fit never made sense from the very start.

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