Growing up in West Point, Mississippi, Kevin Dotson was a fan of one particular NFL franchise, the Pittsburgh Steelers. After a stellar career at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, he was drafted in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft by his childhood team.
Dotson played phenomenally during his rookie season as he made 13 appearances and recorded four starts while not allowing a single sack. He also played a big role on a historic offensive line that allowed just 14 total sacks all season, the franchise’s lowest mark since 1982.
His second season was cut short after just nine games of being a full-time starter and resumed his starting roles last season. After his level of play declined over the past two seasons, it seems like his time as a Steeler is nearing its end. This offseason, the team signed Isaac Seumalo to a three-year, $24 million contract and he is expected to take over the starting left guard position.
While Dotson is prepared to compete to the best of his abilities, he noticed the writing on the wall in regard to his future with his childhood team.
“I mean, once you pay somebody, it’s set in stone regardless,” Dotson said about his starting role.
While it was evident that the Steelers offensive line did not play well at points throughout last season, Dotson played a career-high 1,160 snaps last season and was rated as the Steelers third best starting offensive lineman (65.4) and the best overall pass blocker (77.6) on the line by Pro Football Focus.
This sounds like Dotson should just be able to shift over the right guard poisition, where he played in college, but the Steelers second best offensive lineman last season was the right guard, James Daniels. Couple that with the fact that the Steelers paid Daniels handsomely last offseason, it is unlikey the chance is even given to the cheaper, less-productive Dotson to compete for the spot.
While he knows that the jobs are likely Seumalo’s and Daniels’ to lose, he is prepared to try his hardest and wait for his opportunity to come back around, whether that is in Pittsburgh or elsewhere.
“You know, there’s nothing I can do about it,” Dotson said. “I just have to go as hard as I can go, hope something happens here or in the future. It’s part of a game.”
69 • Kevin Dotson, Guard, Louisiana
6-foot-4, 321 pounds, 26 years old, 4th Season
Acquired: The Steelers drafted Dotson with the 135th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Last Year: After missing the second half of the 2021 season with a leg injury, Dotson reprised his starting role on the offensive line as he played in and started all 17 games at left guard for the Steelers last season.
The 2022 season was the second consecutive year that Dotson has blocked for a 1,000-yard rusher in Najee Harris. Dotson was apart of an offensive line that did not allow a sack in two games and just one sack in four games. While the Steelers offensive line struggled at times last season, Dotson was graded as the best pass blocker (77.6) on the Steelers line in 2022 by Pro Football Focus.
Career: After the Steelers drafted Dotson in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, he made his debut in Week 1 after multiple injuries on the offensive line. Dotson received his first career start the following week and totaled four starts in his rookie season. Appearing in 13 games in total, Dotson played 358 offensive snaps as a rookie and allowed zero sacks while committing only three penalties. Dotson received his highest PFF rating (66.2) of his career during his rookie season.
In 2020, the Steelers offensive line allowed just 14 sacks throughout the entire season which was the fewest in the NFL that season. The offensive line went five straight games without allowing a sack which happened to be the longest such streak in Steelers history since 1982.
In his second season, Dotson became the full-time starting left guard and started the first nine games of the season. During the Steelers’ Week 10 game, Dotson injured his leg and was later placed on injured reserve, effectively ending his second season.
In 2022, Dotson returned to the left guard position and started all 17 games for the Steelers. He played a career-high 1,160 offensive snaps and allowed four sacks on 686 pass blocking snaps. Dotson did take a step back in terms of committing penalties as he finished the year with 12, which was more than he committed in his first two season combined.
|Year||GP||GS||Snaps||PB Eff %||Sacks||Penalties||PFF Rating|
College: Dotson entered Lousiana as a freshman in 2015 but redshirted his first year. As a redshirt freshman in 2016, Dotson played in Week 1 as a backup but gained the starting right guard position the next week and kept the job throughout the rest of the season. For his efforts as a redshirt freshman, Dotson was named to the Sun Belt All-Newcomer Team.
In 2017 as a redshirt sophomore, Dotson played in and started all 12 of the Rajin’ Cajuns games at right guard. He blocked for a rushing unit that ranked third in the conference and was named to the All-Sun Belt Conference Second Team.
In 2018, Dotson started all 14 games of the season for Losuiana and helped block for three 700-yard rushers. Dotson earned All-Sun Belt Conference First Team honors after his reshirt junior season.
As a redshirt senior in 2019, Dotson really stepped his game up as he finished with an elite PFF rating of 91.6 and was named to the Associated Press All-American First Team. Dotson started 14 games in his final collegiate season and only allowed one sack. Dotson led the way for Lousiana’s rushing attack that finished third nationally in yards per carry (6.3), fourth in rushing touchdowns (42), sixth in rushing yards per game (257.4), and seventh in total rushing yards (3,604). He finished his college career with 52 career starts.
Salary cap and future: Dotson is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and he will count for $2.9 million against the Steelers’ 2023 salary cap. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in 2024.
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