New to Steelers Depot, we will be highlighting several possible draft prospects the Pittsburgh Steelers may have interest in for the 2022 NFL Draft and their performance during the college football season.
The Texas A&M Aggies faced off against the Arkansas Razorbacks this past Saturday in Dallas, Texas in a highly touted SEC conference matchup. Arkansas won the game 20-10, thoroughly dominating Texas A&M for most of the game. While the Razorbacks were the victors on Saturday, this film room focuses in on Aggies OL Kenyon Green, a high pedigree draft prospect I previously highlighted in our Summer Scouting series and as a player to watch for heading into Week 4 of the college football season. I was initially pleased with Green’s overall performance watching the game real-time, but after going back through the tape, there were more ups and downs in his play than I previously thought.
To start the game, Green lines up at the RG spot for the Aggie offense. We see him here on this third down pass attempt drop into pass protection, engaging the 0-technique DL that attacks him head on. Green does a good job getting hand placement inside the defender’s chest and drops anchor to neutralize the pass rush and keep his man from getting inside the pocket.
When Green doesn’t have someone directly on him in pass protection, he does a great job finding work and aiding the center or tackle. Arkansas rushes three down defensive linemen and drops eight into coverage on this play, and Green helps out the center by shoving the 0-technique in the side, knocking him off of his feet and to the turf.
However, Green had some moments Saturday afternoon where he played out of control which resulted in some whiffed block attempts. Here is an example on first down where Green is pulling from right to left to pick up the DE on the inside run out of the pistol. Green makes contact with the defender, but drops his head when he makes contact, having the defender spin off of the block and right into the gap the back is running to resulting in no gain on the play. Green needs to play with better leverage on this play and look at what he is blocking rather than going for the light up shot which ultimately results in him whiffing on his assignment.
We see a similar trend here on this screen play later in the second quarter where Green gets up to the second level to pick up the linebacker but stops his feet and lunges forward on his block attempt, dropping his head as the linebacker swims over Green’s shoulder. #27 Hayden Henry keeps his feet and pursues the ball carrier, eventually getting in on the tackle. While the runner was able to pick up the first down, Green needs to make this block and play under control.
We see a similar situation here later in the quarter as the offense is driving down the field in the two-minute drill. Green climbs to the second level, but charges forward too fast without keeping his head on a swivel, failing to locate the defender coming in from the side as he flies in impeded to the screen guy, throwing him down behind the LOS for a loss of yardage. While this would be a difficult block to make for most offensive linemen, Green needs to have the awareness to locate the closest defender to the play to spring the runner for more yardage.
To start the second half, Green was moved from RG to LT. While his natural position is on the inside at guard, Green has had experience playing tackle in the past at the start of the 2021 season and represented himself fairly well there against the Razorbacks. On this play halfway through the third quarter, Green lines up at the LT spot and picks up the defender walking down from the box to the LOS, latching onto him and turns his left shoulder away from the play, proceeding to run him down the field to help spring #28 Isaiah Spiller who shoots through the gap and breaks away for the long touchdown run.
In pass protection, Green holds his own against #55 Tre Williams on this rep. Green gets hands-on with Williams quickly after the snap, getting a strong punch on the defender’s shoulder pads and has his feet mirror his hands from side-to-side in pass protection. He adjusts well to Williams’ attempt to rip his left arm through and then counter back inside, keeping his hands inside the defender’s chest and gives a strong jolt under his pads to stall his rush. The QB loses his balance in the pocket and falls over after tripping on Green’s leg, but I wouldn’t mark this up as a loss by Green but rather a lack of pocket presence by the signal caller.
Here is another good rep by Green in pass protection on the blind side, engaging Tre Williams on the snap of the ball and plays with his hands inside the strike zone, arm extended, and a strong anchor with knee flexion and hip bend. His feet work laterally in rhythm with his shoulders to keep the defender from getting the edge and keep the pass rush from getting home.
While Green had some solid reps in pass protection from the tackle spot, he did get exposed to the pure speed rush on the edge. Traditionally playing on the inside, Green doesn’t see defenders coming from a wide-9 technique like he does on this play at the end of the game. Tre Williams lines up in a standup position far outside the tackle box and gets a great get off on the snap, attacking the corner as Green attempts to cut him off. Green is quick out of his stance but does get a great vertical set to establish the depth of the pocket. Williams does a great job bending around the corner under Green’s block and hits the QB as he releases the ball.
Overall, there were a lot more highs and lows in Green’s performance against the Arkansas defense than I initially noticed watching the game in real-time. After watching Green struggle with the speed rush from the tackle spot and have trouble climbing to the second level, it appears he is best suited for more of a run heavy, power blocking scheme that allows him to work in a phone booth rather than getting out in space and having to make blocks in the open field.
This doesn’t mean that he can’t play tackle at the next level, as he held his own there when asked to move there at halftime. However, his best and most natural fit is inside at guard to maximize his strengths as a powerful run blocker that is difficult to move off his spot in pass protection. There are some key areas that Green needs to keep up before transitioning to the pros, but a lot of his mistakes are more technical, and he should be able to become a capable starter on the interior with potential position flexibility if necessary.
What are your thoughts on Kenyon Green’s performance against Arkansas? Do you think that he is strictly a guard at the next level, or that he can have some position versatility when it comes to playing at tackle? Does this performance change your opinion of him and his prospects of being one of the top offensive linemen selected? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below and thanks again for reading!