The Pittsburgh Steelers will have a brand spanking new offensive line this season, or something close to it. For better or worse, we’ll have to find out as the year unfolds, though most seem to be taking the ‘it couldn’t be any worse’ approach.
Not a single projected starter has been the intended starter at the spot in which he’s expected to play this year for more than one game—and the one starter who has been the intended starter at his spot previously is the one, outside of a rookie, with the least experience, that being Zach Banner.
Kevin Dotson, on the other hand, did start four games last season for the Steelers as a rookie, two at each guard position. He’s expected to take over at left guard this year for Matt Feiler, who departed in free agency, and he did open some eyes.
In a recent ranking of guards, Pro Football Focus, for example, included him 29th on the list, which is fairly notable given that he only has a few hundred snaps to his name and, well, there are 64 starting guards. At this point in his career, being viewed in the top half is not bad at all.
“The biggest projection on the list outside of rookies, Dotson has just 358 snaps of NFL action under his belt”, Sam Monson writes in the piece, which features one rookie, Alijah Vera-Tucker, right behind him at 30. “In those snaps, he earned a pass-blocking grade above 87.2, allowing just one hurry”.
A fourth-round pick out of Louisiana-Lafayette, and with the dubious distinction of being the first player drafted in 2020 who was not invited to the Combine, it would be fair to say that he exceeded expectations, especially given the pandemic conditions.
In fact, he ranks higher on the list than the man he’s replacing, Feiler, who signed a three-year, $21 million contract in free agency with the Los Angeles Chargers. The former Steeler comes in ranked 32nd on the list, noting that he is a better tackle than guard, with which Steelers fans would agree.
David DeCastro, another very recently former Steeler, also made the list at 15, but it remains to be seen if he ever even plays again. He was waived with a Non-Football Injury designation last month and is slated to have ankle surgery, openly acknowledging that he doesn’t know if he’ll retire after this.
The Steelers signed five-time Pro Bowler Trai Turner to fill DeCastro’s spot, but the former Panther and Charger is nowhere to be found on this list. Of course, PFF’s estimations mean little in the grand scheme of things, and certainly nothing authoritative.