2021 Offseason Questions: Will Kendrick Green Be Steelers’ Starting Center?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five games, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason that resulted in their early exit.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Will Kendrick Green begin his rookie season as the Steelers’ starting center?

The Steelers passed on their choice of centers, short of Landon Dickerson, in the second round by opting for tight end Pat Freiermuth, and that left them with slimmer pickings by the time their selection in the third round rolled along. One popular name was Quinn Meinerz, but they ended up choosing Kendrick Green, who was primarily a guard, out of Illinois instead.

Presumably, the Steelers selected him because they believe that he will be able to compete for a starting job right out of the gates. Following the retirement of Maurkice Pouncey, the depth chart heading into the draft consisted only of B.J. Finney and J.C. Hassenauer.

Green is an athletic player for the position and was skilled as a puller from the guard position, which the Steelers also like to have at center as well. But he is also on the smaller side, standing at just 6’2”, and has both some physical and fundamental growth ahead of him.

That opens the door for the possibility that the Steelers rely on a bridge starter to open the 2021 season at the center position, and that could be either Finney or Hassenauer, of whom it has been said that the team is higher on than those on the outside.

Center and nickel back figure to be the only two starting jobs up for grabs heading into the training camp, but that could change depending on if they manage to address the tackle position, either during or after the draft. Re-signing Alejandro Villanueva would leave Zach Banner and Chukwuma Okorafor to, once again, compete for the right tackle job.

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