PITTSBURGH — The Steelers thought they had their next franchise center when they drafted Kendrick Green in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but could end up playing him at guard in the future.
Green earned the starting role out of training camp, his play largely did not inspire throughout the season. Green then suffered a calf injury late in the year, and J.C. Hassenauer started the rest of the season from then on. Even though Hassenauer was nothing to write home about, he was still an upgrade to Green.
With more experience playing guard in college, the move to guard was a thought that has been floated around, by Ben Roethlisberger of all people, and acknowledged as a possibility by Mike Tomlin.
The Steelers have a glaring hole at right guard with Trai Turner becoming a free agent. If the Steelers want to move him there, it creates a fairly large hole at center. Still, for Kevin Colbert and company, evaluating Green along with his versatility is something that is key to the 2022 offseason.
“When we drafted Kendrick, we knew he had spend the majority of his college career at guard,” Colbert said. “We saw him play enough center that we thought that could be his position of the future. Kendrick did a lot of good things for us, he did. When he hurt the calf, he wasn’t benched because of inefficient play. He was benched because he was hurt and he actually dressed and was available in an emergency role, even though he wasn’t 100%. J.C. did a nice job and we came out of it saying, OK let’s see if Kendrick can get healthy and get right. We know that Kendrick can play guard. We know that he can play center. Is it his best option? We’ll see where we go these next two months, because we don’t know what’s going to be available to us.”
It is easy to see Green shifting over to guard. However, some of his issues at center are not going to be fixed at guard. His length will always be an issue, but he must improve his hand placement in order to succeed on the interior of the line anywhere. If he can improve that aspect, Green may be able to take advantage of his athleticism and natural traits.