The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 offseason practices concluded last week. Next up for the team is their annual training camp, which should get underway in the latter part of July. Ahead of training camp, we will preview the team’s 90-man roster three players at a time for you as part of a 30-post series. This Steelers 90-man roster preview that includes outlooks for each player goes alphabetically by last name to make it easy to follow along with.
The next three players we will preview today are Kendrick Green, J.C. Hassenauer, and Cameron Heyward.
C Kendrick Green — The Steelers made Green, who played his college football at Illinois, their third-round selection in 2021. Green arrived at Illinois as a defensive tackle and transitioned to offense ahead of the 2017 college season during his redshirt year. He started all 12 games at left guard as a redshirt freshman after converting over. Green started 12 games at left guard and one game at center as a sophomore and all eight games as a junior, with three games coming at center after the starter got hurt. He finished his career with 33 consecutive starts at either guard or center. Green measured in at his pro day at 6017, 305 pounds with 32 1/4″ arms and 10 1/8″ hands. He ran his 40-yard dash in 4.89 seconds and did 25 reps on the bench. He posted a vertical jump of 35 1/2″ and a broad jump of 9’11”.
Outlook: As a rookie, Green is expected to emerge from training camp and the preseason as the Steelers starting center as he should beat out the likes of B.J. Finney and J.C. Hassenauer, the other two center-capable players currently on the team’s 90-man roster. With Green being undersized at 6017, he’s best much better suited to play center than guard in the NFL. It will be a huge disappointment should Green not be able to win the starting center job out of training camp this year. If that’s the case, he should take over the starting center spot by Week 5 at the latest. The Steelers like Green’s mobility so he should be on the move quite a bit during his 2021 rookie season.
C/G J.C. Hassenauer — Hassenauer, a former undrafted free agent out of Alabama, not only made the Steelers roster in 2020 out of training camp, but he also dressed for every game during the season and even made four starts with three coming at center and one other at left guard. In total, Hassenauer played 304 offensive snaps during the 2020 regular season and 50 more on special teams. He allowed four quarterback hurries and a hit on the season. His play on the offensive line in 2020 was below average overall. The Steelers re-signed Hassenauer to a one-year contract as an exclusive rights free agent earlier in the offseason.
Outlook: Hassenauer, along with Finney, will be expected to push the rookie Green for the starting center job throughout the remainder of the summer. Hassenauer, just like Finney, is also position flexible and thus he can play all three interior spots on the offensive line. While Hassenauer appears to have an extremely good shot at making the 53-man roster out of training camp and the preseason in the next 10 weeks, it’s not guaranteed to ultimately play out that way. The Steelers will likely keep nine total offensive linemen on their 53-man roster this year and if that’s the case, Hassenauer will essentially be battling for one of the four backup spots this summer. He would likely land on the Steelers practice squad should he fail to survive the final few rounds of roster cuts weeks from now.
DT Cameron Heyward — The Steelers signed Heyward to another huge contract extension just prior to the start of the 2020 season and the defensive captain went on to have a very respectable season. In the 15 regular season games that Heyward played in last season, the former first round draft pick out of Ohio state registered 54 total tackles, four sacks, three defensed passes and an interception, the first of his NFL career. He had 19 quarterback hits in 2020 and seven of his tackles resulted in lost yardage. In total, Heyward played 806 defensive snaps in 2020 and he was held out of the team’s regular season finale so he could rest up for the playoffs. In the Steelers lone playoff game, Heyward registered just one tackle and a pass defensed.
Outlook: Heyward, who is now 32 years of age, is once again expected to be a main cog in the Steelers defensive front in 2021. He’ll be the Steelers defensive captain once again and the hope is that he’ll remain productive as both a run stopper and pass rusher in 2021 while possibly playing a tad fewer snaps throughout the team’s 17-game schedule. Heyward will anchor a very impressive defensive line unit in 2021 that should include the likes of defensive end Stephon Tuitt, defensive tackle Tyson Alualu, and outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. Five or more sacks should be expected from Heyward in 2021.
Previous Posts In Series
90 In 30: Steelers 2021 Training Camp Preview Series: DeMarkus Acy, Marcus Allen, Tyson Alualu
90 In 30: Steelers 2021 Training Camp Preview Series: Abdullah Anderson, Kalen Ballage, Zach Banner
90 In 30: Steelers 2021 Training Camp Preview Series: Jordan Berry, Chris Boswell, Antoine Brooks Jr.
90 In 30: Steelers 2021 Training Camp Preview Series: Shakur Brown, Isaiah Buggs, Calvin Bundage
90 In 30: Steelers 2021 Training Camp Preview Series: Devin Bush, Rico Bussey, Kameron Canaday
90 In 30: Steelers 2021 Training Camp Preview Series: T.J. Carter, Demarcus Christmas, Chase Claypool
90 In 30: Steelers 2021 Training Camp Preview Series: Aviante Collins, Rashaad Coward, Anthony Coyle
90 In 30: Steelers 2021 Training Camp Preview Series: Carlos Davis, Stephen Denmark, Joshua Dobbs
90 In 30: Steelers 2021 Training Camp Preview Series: Kevin Dotson, Eric Ebron, Terrell Edmunds
90 In 30: Steelers 2021 Training Camp Preview Series: Trey Edmunds, B.J. Finney, Minkah Fitzpatrick
90 In 30: Steelers 2021 Training Camp Preview Series: Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry, Mark Gilbert
90 In 30: Steelers 2021 Training Camp Preview Series: Ulysees Gilbert III, Joe Haden, Joe Haeg
90 In 30: Steelers 2021 Training Camp Preview Series: Najee Harris, Pressley Harvin III, Dwayne Haskins