Matt Williamson has been a respected draft analyst for some time now, working for various outlets. He has been working a fair bit directly with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ website this offseason in their NFL Draft coverage. Williamson has recently embarked on a draft review series in which he examined each player that the team drafted.
He has offered fairly glowing reviews so far for each of the Steelers’ first two draft picks in running back Najee Harris and tight end Pat Freiermuth. While you might say that is to be expected from a team-owned vehicle, that doesn’t mean the praise is unwarranted. He had quite positive things to say about third-round center Kendrick Green, as well.
“The two traits you most look for in centers is toughness and smarts”, he writes in the piece. “As long as a prospect has a baseline amount of physical traits, guys that are very tough and smart at this position last and are very difficult to get off the field”.
He makes clear that he believes Green “checks both of those boxes without question”, but also that he is “much more than just a baseline athlete”, citing his background on the defensive side of the ball as well as his time in wrestling, even baseball.
While he very clearly is a fan of the prospect, however, he also doesn’t rush him into the starting lineup, crediting B.J. Finney as “a proven commodity that can hold down the fort” until Green is ready, noting that the center position can be a difficult one to handle right out of the gate.
It also doesn’t help that not only was Green a defensive convert, but the majority of his offensive playing time in college was actually at guard. He doesn’t have any more than a small handful of games actually working the center position.
But with that said, he acknowledges that Green had a clear path to the starting job, as long as he is ready for it. While lacking ideal height for the position, Williamson praised his athletic profile, from his 40 time to his vertical leap to his broad jump, also noting his hand size and arm length as means of minimizing any questions about his overall frame.
The Steelers are, of course, looking for a starting center to replace Maurkice Pouncey, a potential future Hall of Famer who announced his retirement earlier this year following an 11-year career. He was named to the Pro Bowl nine times, the only nine seasons in which he was healthy for more than eight snaps.
Those are big shoes to fill, but Green has just as good a chance of doing is as Finney or J.C. Hassenauer, who are the only other centers on the 90-man roster at the moment. Finney has 12 career starts, with five coming at center. Hassenauer started four games last season, two at center. Both are former college free agents.