Then the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Kevin Dotson as a fourth-round pick last week, he was pretty quickly pegged as a one-position guy. The reality is somewhat different. The 6’4”, 321-pounder out of Louisiana-Lafayette drew attention for his play at right guard in recent years, but that isn’t his only experience.
As he told reporters after he was drafted, he actually came in as a left tackle, and he would later even start at right tackle, before ultimately settling in at right guard next to Robert Hunt, who would go on to be a second-round pick in the same draft, 39th-overall by the Miami Dolphins. Hunt is 6’5”, 323. Not much difference.
But the Steelers didn’t draft Dotson to come in and compete at tackle. He’s coming in as a guard, and may even have an opportunity to compete for the starting job that was vacated when Ramon Foster retired earlier this offseason.
He wouldn’t by any means be considered to be the leading candidate, however—more the dark horse. The race is between Matt Feiler and Stefen Wisniewski, and may come down to whether or not Zach Banner or Chukwuma Okorafor can play right tackle. If they can’t, Feiler has to stick there. If not, there’s a great chance he’s moved inside.
If Dotson is a backup, then being able to play multiple positions would be of great aid. Shaun Sarrett did note after selecting him that he “brings the value of being able to swing back out to tackle”, and the player himself of course also mentioned his background.
Both of them also hinted at future work at center. “We will start to teach him the center thing”, Sarrett said acknowledged somewhat reluctantly, before saying that “some guys can’t do it”. As for himself, Dotson said, “I haven’t really played center before, but I’ve been working it this offseason. I’m starting to get more comfortable with it”.
If you’re coming into the league as anything than an early draft pick, then you had better try to show your new team that you can do at least a couple of different things in the hopes that they can find some use out of you doing one of said things.
Dotson isn’t going to be a one-position guy. He’s going to be flexed out. Just look at Derwin Gray last year, a seventh-round pick. I believe Alex Kozora noted that he played all five positions on the line at one point or another over the course of training camp. Feiler himself, and Chris Hubbard before him; Kelvin Beachum before him; and Trai Essex before him; were all the five-position lineman.
Of course, if he comes in and locks down a starting job, that all becomes moot. But if not, it would behoove him to learn how to snap the ball without it ricocheting off his ass.