Steelers OG Kevin Dotson could take a massive leap forward in 2022

Kevin Dotson #69 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
Kevin Dotson #69 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images) /

Kevin Dotson impressed as a rookie but was subpar last year. Here’s why the Steelers offensive guard could still become the player fans were hoping for. 

I’ll admit that I didn’t watch a lot of Kevin Dotson film before the Steelers selected him in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The Louisiana-Lafeyette offensive guard didn’t even receive an NFL Combine invite and didn’t participate in testing at his Pro Day.

It didn’t take long for Dotson to impress, however. When injuries struck the Steelers interior offensive line early in the 2020 season, it was Dotson who stepped in… and the results were quite impressive. Dotson played significant offensive snaps in three of his first five career games before his job was given back to a returning Matt Feiler.

After spending some time on the COIVD-19 list in the middle of the season, Dotson saw the field once again late in the year and earned back-to-back starts to close out his rookie season, via Pro Football Reference.

During this time, fans were thoroughly impressed with the results. Dotson was a bulldozer in the running game, but his pass protection was even more impressive. The fourth-round pick earned the highest pass-block grade among rookies and in 2020 and graded out as one of the best interior offensive linemen in the NFL in this department.

Last year, however, things didn’t quite go as smoothly. After a promising rookie campaign, fans looked for big things from Dotson, but he failed to deliver. He earned just the 49th-best grade among guards last year, and his up and down tape would confirm his struggles.

Dotson admitted to doing too much to try to help the players around him. Wedged in between two mid-round rookies in Dan Moore and Kendrick Green, Dotson tried to help his young teammates out as much as possible, but his own play suffered in the process.

Dotson can take a big leap for the Steelers

By his own addition, Kevin Dotson’s starting job isn’t guaranteed this year. After the Pittsburgh Steelers spent good money on both James Daniels and Mason Cole in free agency, Dotson said that he and Kendrick Green will be competing for the left guard role.

Personally, I think that this is a race that Dotson will run away with. While Green played guard in college at a pretty high level, Dotson has significantly more size and strength. It certainly shows in the field.

When he does win this job, there is good reason to believe he will be much improved this year. For starters, Dotson’s progress was halted last season when he landed in IR with a high ankle sprain in Week 9. He would not return for the rest of the season.

In addition, Dotson won’t be asked to help out with other assignments this year and can focus on himself. Dan Moore now has a full year of starting experience under his belt, while Mason Cole has 39 career starts and shouldn’t struggle anywhere near as badly as Green did last season.

When Dotson was healthy and playing well, his brute strength and quick feet were on full display. We have witnessed his ability to bully defensive linemen at the point of attack, and that’s a trait that isn’t going away.

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Now that Dotson is fully healthy and entering his third NFL season, I would expect him to take a big leap forward for the Steelers in 2022. He might never be a Pro Bowl-level guard, but he could prove to be well worth the fourth-round pick Pittsburgh spent on him in 2020. This is a big year for Kevin Dotson.