It’s common to hear the draft referred to as a crapshoot, and the reason should be obvious enough to anybody who has followed the NFL — or really any sport that involves a draft process. Needless to say, things increasingly become more unpredictable the deeper in the draft you get.
By the time you’re selecting in the middle of the fourth round, you’re certainly not going in expecting that you’re getting a sure-fire starter. Generally speaking, landing two starters out of a single draft class is pretty good.
The Pittsburgh Steelers likely enter the 2021 season with three starters from their 2020 Draft class, in a year in which they had no first round draft pick, and that’s thanks to guys like fourth round Louisiana-Lafayette product Kevin Dotson, whom most assume will start at left guard. And he’s been vouched for already, with Maurkice Pouncey, recently retired, giving Dotson high praise.
Back in October, Pouncey told reporters that he believes Dotson would be a Steeler for a long time, and likened him to All-Pro right guard David DeCastro in terms of his playing style and the intangibles that he brings to the table.
“It means a lot to hear that. He is quiet about that stuff. He doesn’t show it all of the time. But to hear him say it, it means a lot,” he said of the longtime Steelers’ comments, speaking to Teresa Varley for the team’s website. “And to be compared to DeCastro, he is great. I guarantee he is going to be in the Hall of Fame someday. To be compared to him, that’s special”.
Had the Steelers started the 2020 season healthy, he possibly would have been a healthy scratch for the season opener, coming down to either he or the more experienced and center-capable J.C. Hassenauer. But DeCastro was dinged up to start the year, and top interior reserve, Stefen Wisneiwski, went down late in that game.
And so it came to pass that he logged his first career snaps in his first-ever NFL game, and then started a week later. In all, he started four games during his rookie season: Two at right guard, two at left guard, amassing more than 300 snaps of playing time.
He drew positive reviews for his performance on both sides filling in for DeCastro and Matt Feiler, respectively. With Feiler now out west with the Los Angeles Chargers, it seems likely, barring perhaps a high draft pick coming in, that Dotson will take over at left guard.
I think we can safely guess where Pouncey would put his money. And given the way the young man has played so far, I don’t think anybody will claim surprise if he ends up having a long and successful career — hopefully in Pittsburgh.