Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season is over, the team finishing above .500 but failing to make the postseason, we turn our attention to the offseason. One thing that it means is that some stock evaluations are going to start taking on broader contexts, reflecting on a player’s development, either positively or negatively, over the course of the season. Other evaluations will reflect only one immediate event or trend. The nature of the evaluation, whether short-term or long-term, will be noted in the reasoning section below.
Player: G Kevin Dotson
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: The Steelers have signed two more guards this offseason, including a long-time veteran in Isaac Seumalo about whom there is no question whether he will be a starter. That leaves Kevin Dotson’s starting job—and even roster spot—in a very precarious position.
A fourth-round pick out of Louisiana-Lafayette in 2020, Kevin Dotson has started every game in which he has played for the past two seasons. That included all 17 games in 2022 in which he played all 1,160 snaps for which the Steelers’ offense was on the field.
Yet there is a more than fair chance that he may not even be on their roster come September. With Pittsburgh signing Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig as outside unrestricted free agents, it is less clear where Dotson will fit.
Seumalo is a plug-and-play starter, of which the Steelers now have two at the guard position along with last year’s free-agent acquisition, James Daniels. The best chance Dotson has is if the Steelers decide that they want to try Daniel at center and then hold an open competition at right guard.
If that should happen, then Dotson would be competing with not only Herbig but also current starting center Mason Cole. And if he loses, then he would be a one-position backup, which is a hard thing to be for an interior lineman.
The fact that his salary increased due to the Proven Performance Escalator ,combined with his inability to play center or tackle does not make Dotson an ideal backup. If he fails to obtain a starting job in the Steelers’ now-crowded interior offensive line, he may find himself either traded or released.
At the moment, assuming a starting interior three of Seumalo, Cole, and Daniels, the depth consists of Herbig, Dotson, Kendrick Green, Ryan McCollum, and William Dunkle. None of the four has the desired combination of experience, pedigree and position flexibility.
I strongly suspect that between now and the start of the regular season the Steelers will add a player who is a natural center and will serve as the gameday reserve at the position, whether it’s re-signing J.C. Hassenauer, signing another free agent, or drafting a rookie. There’s still a very good chance that an interior lineman not currently on the roster will make the team. And if that happens, Dotson is likely on the outside looking in. because you wouldn’t want any of these guys starting games at center.