When you draft a guy who is decked out in full team colors from just things that he owns as a fan within minutes of hanging up from the many phone calls he has to go through after being selected, you have a guy that is easy to root for.
That guy this year was Kevin Dotson, a fourth-round interior offensive lineman. He is the highest-drafted interior offensive lineman the Pittsburgh Steelers have taken since David DeCastro in the first round in 2012, so suffice it to say that it’s been a while.
Combine those two factors and you have a guy whom some people are in a hurry to push into the starting lineup—not to mention the fact that he is considered a road-grader, meaning he has the ability to move people in the run game.
While there was technically an opening at left guard with Ramon Foster’s retirement, Matt Feiler filled that by moving over from right tackle, and Stefen Wisniewski, a veteran signed in free agency, was likely to start failing that. Considering the shortened offseason, he had the odds stacked against him to have the opportunity to contribute as a rookie.
And then he suffered an injury in the middle of camp, one that initially looked like it could be serious. Fortunately it wasn’t, and he was able to return to practice for the team’s scrimmage on Friday. “It kind of gets your heart bumping”, he told reporters earlier this week. “I think that helps me in most situations kind of get my adrenaline up. It makes me think faster, move faster, go a little harder. So, I was glad that he put in that situation to be able to at least show my skill”.
While Dotson may eventually have a sport in the starting lineup—after all, they have two undrafted players starting, and one just retired—it won’t be now. Not that he doesn’t want to start. But he’s not focusing on that, nor is he focusing on the potential missed opportunities because of the nature of the offseason.
“I don’t really like to think about the would’ve could’ve type things, just kind of go with what’s happening right now”, he said. “I feel like I’m doing good enough to at least be seen, so I’m not really worried about those types of things right now. I feel like I can make an impact no matter what happens”.
He has been able to generate some positive buzz. He was noted as doing very well winning in one-on-one drills on Monday, for example, and said that he felt like he was holding his own, even against the starting defensive line.
His rookie season is looking like it will be uneventful for him, barring injury, but with the new rule allowing teams to dress an eighth lineman, he will be available for the Steelers to use, if they so choose. Who knows, maybe they’ll have seven offensive linemen out there. They actually have run that before.