(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
One of the most intriguing training camp battles for the Steelers this year comes at the center position. The Steelers drafted Kendrick Green in the third round in this year's draft, and he's expected to be the heir apparent for longtime center Maurkice Pouncey, who retired this offseason.
Green should be a Year 1 starter, but he'll have to prove himself at training camp and beat out veterans B.J. Finney and J.C. Hassenauer for the starting role. Bleacher Report believes Green is up for the challenge and deems him as the Steelers' secret weapon for the 2021 season.
"Center will be an important position for a couple of reasons. For one, 39-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger needs to remain upright and healthy if the Steelers are going to make a playoff push. Secondly, the Steelers had the league's worst rushing attack in 2020 and will need to open holes for rookie first-round pick Najee Harris," Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report wrote.
"Pittsburgh's offensive line is undergoing a few changes in 2021—left tackle Alejandro Villanueva also departed in the offseason—and Green may be the secret weapon that makes the transition work."
Green isn't the biggest, but he's a quick center who excels in zone blocking and at getting up to the second level. He also plays with a mean streak, which is exactly what new offensive line coach Adrian Klemm is looking for.
"I am really excited about KG. He is a guy we had our eye on," Klemm said. "We love the way that he plays in terms of what we've been talking about, in terms of changing our demeanor and the attitude that we want to carry onto the field. He embodies all of that. He has great leadership qualities. He was the alpha in that program. He is just a tremendous player. He can do it all. The pulls, physical in the run game, pass protect. All of those things."
When Green got drafted, he said he was the most athletic offensive lineman in this year's class. He ran a 4.89 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day and squatted 700 pounds when he was at Illinois, so his statement has some validity to it.
"He is exceptionally explosive and twitched up with outstanding core strength and natural leverage that make him a plug-and-play starter at the pivot in a zone-based run scheme," Brandon Thorn of the B/R NFL Scouting Department wrote.