If Kendrick Green doesn't work at center, Steelers have one last resort

Steelers, Kendrick Green
Steelers, Kendrick Green / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Kendrick Green went from being a day-one starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers to a player who never saw the field in his second NFL season. After underwhelming as a rookie, Mike Tomlin decided that Green should revert back to offensive guard -- the position he played during his time at Illinois. But that's easier said than done.

During training camp and the preseason in 2022, Green was rag-dolled and humiliated often against bigger and more powerful defensive tackles. This wasn't hard to see coming. In fact, at the time the Steelers elected to transition him to guard last June, I immediately went on record saying that this transition wasn't going to work out.

Despite moving back to the position he was familiar with during his college days, Green just didn't have the play strength or body type to hold up as an NFL guard. When compared to guards, Green's height is in the 1st percentile with a wingspan in the 5th percentile. His lack of size and length has created all sorts of problems early in his career.

Even as a center, Green is small, but his deficiencies can be more easily covered up. Now in his third season at Steelers OTAs, the coaching staff has come to the same conclusion I had from the start: Green is a center-only player. He won't make it anywhere else.

What does this mean for the former third-round pick? The Steelers have just one last resort if he doesn't cut it as a center in 2023.

Steelers last resort with Kendrick Green

I said at the time of his transition to offensive guard last year that the Pittsburgh Steelers would be better off making him a fullback. His best traits are his athletic tools and ability to move in space. Sizewise, Green is very similar to 300-pounder Patrick Ricard -- the fullback of the Ravens.

However, if this was something that was never realistically on the table (and it probably wasn't), center is the only position for Green in the NFL because of his size and strength limitations. This means that if he doesn't cut it here, he's not going to work anywhere on an NFL roster.

Green has a prime opportunity to fall back into the good graces of Pat Meyer and the coaching staff. As a guard, there wasn't a chance he was making this roster with Isaac Seumalo, James Daniels, Nate Herbig, and Kevin Dotson in front of him on the roster. But as a center, there's a real shot now that 2022 backup J.C. Hassenauer is in New York with the Giants.

If Green struggles just as badly in year three, the Steelers last resort will be to cut him. This is something that they historically don't like to do with former Day 2 draft picks, but there comes a time when management needs to bite the bullet and admit they were wrong. It's also important to remember that this was a Kevin Colbert pick and that Omar Khan may not be as loyal to him.

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The sad part is that many fans knew at the time that this was a bizarre choice. There were a handful of better interior offensive linemen still on the board (including Quinn Meinerz, who many of us wanted) at the time the Steelers took Green with the 87th overall pick in 2021. This was a reach from the beginning, and Green will have one last chance to prove himself as a center. If he can't, there's no room for him on the Steelers roster.