Steelers center Kendrick Green can be an improvement over an old Maurkice Pouncey

Quarterback Matt Robinson #12 of the Illinois Fighting Illini carries the ball as teammate Kendrick Green #53 blocks. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Quarterback Matt Robinson #12 of the Illinois Fighting Illini carries the ball as teammate Kendrick Green #53 blocks. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The Steelers are hoping they found their center of the future in Kendrick Green. Here’s why he can be an improvement over an aging Maurkice Pouncey. 

First off, let me start by saying that Maurkice Pouncey had a terrific career for the Pittsburgh Steelers. As a former two-time All-Pro and nine-time Pro Bowler, it’s outright foolish to believe that a third-round draft choice is going to have a better career path. But that’s not the argument here.

If you have been paying close attention over the past two years, then you would have seen that Pouncey’s performance on the field has taken a drastic dive – so much so that a starting job was almost unwarranted. In fact, had it not been for his remarkable career and outstanding reputation, there’s a good chance he may have already been replaced sooner.

Fortunately for both parties involved, Pouncey decided to hang up his cleats for good following the 2020 season. The Steelers knew that center was a pressing need as they entered the NFL Draft. Though they had their pick of the litter, Pittsburgh elected to wait until round three where they went with athletic underclassmen in Illinois offensive lineman, Kendrick Green.

Green is a former wrestler and defensive tackle who made the switch to offense back in 2017. He spent most of his time playing guard in college. However, the Steelers already expressed that they plan to move him to center. Could the rookie day-two pick be an instant improvement over the Maurkice Pouncey we have seen in recent years?

Steelers improved the center position going from a former All-Pro to a rookie

The short answer is yes. While we obviously need to allow time to let this play out, there are a number of reasons to believe that Kendrick Green will be an upgrade over an aging Maurkice Pouncey.

For starters, Pouncey’s play was really quite poor over the past two seasons. In both 2019 and 2020, he graded out near the bottom of the league at his position, according to Pro Football Focus. The tape certainly lines up with this.

In his early years, Pouncey was one of the more athletic centers in the league, and he was brilliant at getting to the second level. While he remained an adequate pass protector in his final seasons, he really struggled to anchor against power, and his ability to move defensive tackles as a run blocker was almost completely gone.

In steps Kendrick Green – a largely unknown prospect to most of the football world. At just under 6’2” and 305 pounds, Green is a bit on the small side, but what he lacks in size, he makes up for with outstanding athletic traits.

At his Illinois Pro Day, Green turned heads with a  remarkable 4.89 40-yard dash, a 35.5” vertical jump, a 9’11” broad jump, and  1.69 10-yard split. Each of these numbers was between the 94th and 99th percentiles for NFL centers, according to

However, Green’s athletic traits aren’t the only reason why we should believe that he could be an improvement over an old Maurkice Pouncey from day one. Green has an incredibly nasty demeanor on the football field, and he’s not satisfied unless he’s finishing the play by driving a defender into the turf. He’s already a terrific zone blocker who is outstanding in space, and his ability to turn and seal defenders in the run game is beyond his years.

Where Green will have some difficulty from the gate is in pass protection. While his feet are incredibly nimble, he too often has mental lapses and he occasionally has difficulty anchoring against the bull rush when going up against bigger defensive tackles.

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Overall, I really like Kendrick Green’s film and it’s not hard to see why the Steelers fell in love with him. While I don’t believe he will ever have a career as notable as Maurkice Pouncey’s, I think it’s reasonable to believe that he could be a better player than Pouncey has been these past few seasons as early as his rookie year.