After the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Kevin Dotson, they made it pretty clear that, at least for the moment, they don’t have any expectations for him position-wise outside of playing guard. When both offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett and general manager Kevin Colbert were asked to address his position flexibility, they kind of gave half-hearted answers.
And the team even talked about how one-position players—for example, center-only, guard-only, or tackle-only reserve linemen—are now more valuable because of the new rule that allows teams to dress an eight lineman on gamedays without it affecting their inactives (if they have an eighth lineman).
That’s not necessarily the approach that Dotson is taking. He noted after the draft that he did start out at tackle in college. He also said that he had been training at center prior to the draft so that he can flesh out his repertoire, so to speak.
Recently speaking with Missi Matthews for the team’s website, he said that he has continued to work on his game at center, even through the pandemic, and that he has an in-house instructor. “My brother was a center in high school, so now he’s been teaching me and trying to show me how to do center more”, he said. “I’ve been training at center, but I wasn’t as comfortable as I’m getting now”.
Of course, the rookie’s immediate goal is to land the starting job at left guard and never let it go, in which case he’ll never have to worry about other positions. That is what David DeCastro did, a right guard at Stanford who has never played a snap anywhere else in the NFL because, well, why would you play him anywhere else?
There is an opening at left guard since Ramon Foster retired earlier this offseason. B.J. Finney also signed with the Seattle Seahawks in free agency. Matt Feiler is the only other player to start even a single game at left guard for the Steelers over the course of the past four seasons.
Feiler, currently their starting right tackle, aims to fit in wherever he’s best suited, which depends upon how the candidates behind him at left guard and right tackle fare. Stefen Wisniewski was a veteran free agent signing, who would be the top interior reserve if he is not starting. If one of the young tackles can’t handle the job, then Feiler will have to remain there.
In which case, it would be left up to the veteran Wisniewski and the rookie Dotson to man the left guard position. Not that the spot is unfamiliar with longshots. Foster was a former undrafted free agent who made the team as a rookie and started four games there in that 2009 season due to injury.