Kevin Dotson is setting his sights big. And if you’re going to aim, hey, aim high. Most people think the Steelers’ 4th rounder will redshirt his rookie season, sitting behind the likes of David DeCastro and Matt Feiler. But Dotson has other plans.
“I’m very goal-oriented,” Dotson told Steelers.com’s Missi Matthews in an interview shared on Instagram Live a few days ago. “My goal is to not sit on the sidelines.”
Dotson isn’t one used to sitting on the bench. After redshirting his freshman season, He started 52 career games at UL-Lafayette, earning the starting RG job gig two weeks into his 2016 season and never looking back. He got better every year, leading to becoming the first Rajun Cajun named 1st Team, AP All-American by his senior season.
His goals run bigger than just starting either. He told Matthews he wants to be one of the franchise greats.
“[I want to] be one of those Steelers’ players everyone remembers. ‘Oh, he’s a good guard but he’s not like Dotson from 2020.'”
So will Dotson start as a rookie? It would be foolish to discount him entirely but the path seems narrow. Feiler will start somewhere along the offensive line and that’s a lot more likely to come at left guard, where he made one appearance last season, and where there’s a vacancy following Ramon Foster’s retirement.
Dotson’s best path would be for there to be a disaster at right tackle where neither Chukwuma Okorafor nor Zach Banner are worthy or ready to start there. That’d kick Feiler back to RT, leaving Dotson to compete with veteran Stefen Wisniewski for the LG job. Even in that case, the vet in Wisniewski has a good chance to be the team’s choice out of the gate.
Working against Dotson is a shortened offseason. He’s never played left guard before and doesn’t have spring OTAs and minicamp to begin repping the position. Flipping from right to left doesn’t seem drastic on paper but it’s a transition which takes time. Steps, punch, eyes, everything is opposite. Flozell Adams once compared playing the opposite side as writing with your other hand. It’s a transition Dotson will eventually be able to make but it won’t happen instantaneously, hurting his odds of starting his rookie year.
Odds are, Dotson will effectively redshirt in 2020. But with several offensive linemen hitting the final year of their deal, Feiler, Banner, and Alejandro Villanueva, there will probably be a spot for Dotson in 2021. Given his run blocking mentality and college success, once Dotson becomes a starter, he might never give it back.