What does it say about the state of your offensive line when the only starter in which many really seem to have much confidence in is a second-year mid-round draft pick who spot-started for four games during his rookie season?
Don’t answer that question. We’ve been doing it all offseason. The concerns over the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive trenches have been dissected ad nauseum, and certainly, they’re legitimate. Now with projected starting right tackle Zach Banner on the Reserve/Injured List, we already have another curve ball before we play a snap.
Luckily, though, at least there’s Kevin Dotson, right? That is the attitude a lot of Steelers fans appear to have, which Pro Football Focus. They highlighted the former Ragin’ Cajun in an article in which they list the biggest takeaway for each team coming out of the preseason, and they argue that he is primed for a big season.
“Dotson entered the preseason behind Rashaad Coward at left guard, but he quickly reclaimed the starting job with his performance”, Ben Linsey writes. “His 91.1 overall grade across 120 snaps ranked second among qualifying guards, trailing only Royce Newman in Green Bay. Dotson allowed just one hurry on 65 pass-blocking snaps”.
He has certainly had an interesting offseason. There was one solitary report around the end of OTAs claiming that the Steelers had such major concerns with Dotson, and his conditioning efforts, that that was the original reason they brought in Trai Turner for a look. They later signed him to replace David DeCastro.
Adding injury to insult, he missed the first couple of weeks of training camp, including the first preseason game, because of a lingering ankle injury. When he got back on the field, as Linsey mentions, he has to earn the first-team snaps that he had been taking throughout the offseason all over again.
Dotson entered the second preseason game working on the second-team offensive line, though he did check in before the other starters came out. After that, he has played every snap as the first-team left guard, where he’ll be when the regular season opens.
As for the rest of the offensive line, aside from the veteran Turner, who has a lot to prove in finding his prior form, the starting lineup will consist of two mid-round rookies, at least for now, with third-rounder Kendrick Green at center and fourth-round pick Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle. Chukwuma Okorafor, who was supposed to start on the left side, will start on the right for now, where he started 16 games in 2020.