From now until the 2021 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#53 Kendrick Green, IOL, Illinois – 6’1 7/8”, 305lb
-Experienced at playing all spots on the interior of the offensive line
-Good mobility and athleticism for the position
-Explosive out of his stance and has good play speed referenced by his Pro Day testing numbers (4.89 40, 35.5” vertical)
-Does a great job on pulls and when asked to down block to cross the defender’s face and create and seal in the run game
-Has good hand placement on his pass set
-Has his head on a swivel in pass protection and is always looking for work
-Plays with a high motor and will look to make an impact block and pancake defenders
-Relatively inexperienced, having only played the position for three seasons with plenty of room to grow
-Needs to take better angles when climbing to the 2nd level to square up on his blocks
-Will allow defenders to scrape off of his shoulder when he narrows in on his block, not locking on and engaging through the block
-Has base and balance issues in terms of giving ground to power rushers or getting knocked over
-Needs to play with a more consistent mean streak, having moments where he imposes his will on defenders and others where defenders slip off of him relatively easily
-Redshirt Junior prospect from Peoria, IL
-All-state performer on the defensive line as a senior
-Picked Illinois because, “the coaching staff is awesome, and I would love to represent my home state.”
-Came to the Illini program as a defensive tackle and transitioned to offense ahead of the 2017 college season during his redshirt year
-Started all 12 games at left guard as a redshirt freshman after converting over
-Started 12 games at left guard and one game at center as a sophomore
-Started all eight games as a junior with three games coming at center after the starter got hurt
-Finished his career with 33 consecutive starts at either guard or center
-Consensus All-Big Ten first team, USA TODAY second team All-America
Kendrick Green from Illinois started out as a defensive lineman for the program but made the wise business decision and moved to the offensive side of the ball. Green’s athletic traits and movement skills make him a great option to have with his ability to work in space and move laterally from side to side. Green is a fluid mover, having a fast get off on the snap and can easily climb to the 2nd level of the defense. He does a great job of chipping for the center as a guard before climbing to pick up the backer. Here Green provides help to the center at the start of the play before moving up to take the linebacker, turning his shoulders and creating a seal for the back to run through.
Green’s explosiveness out of the snap can’t go understated. He is impressive out of his stance in the run game, getting to his landmark quickly. On this play against Northwestern, Green fires out of his stance on the down block, crossing the face of the defender and gets his head across quickly and turns his shoulders, springing the runner for a nice gain.
He is so good at turning defenders’ shoulders in the run game, getting his head across and allowing the runner to go right off of his back. Another example against Rutgers in the red zone where Green displaces the defender down the line, clearing a way for the runner to punch it in into the end zone.
Here’s another example with Green starting at center in 2020 against Penn State. Again, Green is quick out of his stance, gets into the defender quickly, and effectively washes him down to the left, clearing a big hole his running back explodes through for the score.
While being more of a finesse player due to his quickness and movement skills, Green can generate strength straightforward in the run game. He against Nebraska, Green generates a good initial push up front, running his legs and drives the defensive lineman back nearly ten yards on the inside run.
Green plays with a lot of effort both in the run and in the pass game and it would be hard to question the man’s motor. He is constantly looking for work and ways to contribute and a get a body on a man. Here he shows in pass protection him helping out the left tackle initially, then shifts over to the center after the tackle handles his assignment, going for the big blow up block.
While he may be smaller in stature, Green can set a strong anchor at times with his advantage of leverage on his side. He can sit his hips down and get under pass rushers, neutralizing their rush. He can struggle with massive poser rushers, but should his base be right, he can have a strong pass set. On this play, Green picks up his assignment successfully, gets underneath the defender, and eventually takes him to the ground.
Where Green needs to work on as a blocker is squaring up his run fits and avoiding giving defenders angles to scrape off of him and make a play on the ball. He can tend to overrun the block and end up whiffing on his assignment more than you’d like to see for a player of his skillset. Here is an example where Green gets to the 2nd level of the defense, but the defender blows past his inside shoulder and gets in on the play.
Another example where Green appears to overrun the play and misses the defender instead of burying him on the block.
Another issue that Green tends to struggle with his base and balance. He ends up on the ground far more than you’d like to see as a blocker or when on the run. Whether it be him simply slipping and falling or him losing his feet on his blocks, this is an issue Green needs to clean up.
Overall, Green definitely needs some refinement to his game in terms of his angles to his blocks, staying engaged on his blocks, and also continually getting functionally stronger to have better base and balance control. However, his movement skills and rawness on the offensive side of the ball give good reason to suggest that he is still improving and that he has more development to make as a blocker. His burst and ability to move in space can be a great asset in run-heavy systems that want their blockers to be able to move and make difficult blocks to spring their runners to the 2nd level and beyond. He compares favorably to David Andrews of the Patriots with similar size and athleticism. Sure, Green played most of his games at guard, but he is probably a better fit at center given his traits and ability to move at all levels of the field like Andrews. Green is a great fit as a moving piece on the interior for a wide zone/outside zone-oriented team. He may not fit exactly what the Steelers have had at guard in the past, as they like their guard to have size and power, but he can fit the mold of an agile center that has no problem getting out in space and climbing to the 2nd level on blocks. He will take a little more time developing as a starting blocker, but Green should be able to provide depth to all three interior spots on the line and should look to become a starting-caliber on the inside within his first two seasons.
Projection: Early Day 3
Games Watched: at Northwestern (2020), at Rutgers (2020), at Penn State (2020) at Nebraska (2019)