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Steelers uses 3rd round pickup to take Illinois center / guard Kendrick Green

With No. 87 in the NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers got the center he craves to replace retired Maurice Paunsy.

It just wasn’t what most project experts expected.

The Steelers chose Kendrick Green of Illinois, a 6-foot 2, 305-pound red shirt. Green plays guard, as in the pipette for Illini, but the Steelers will use him to anchor the middle of the offensive line.

Green has big shoes to fill with the departure of Pouncey, who retired in February after 11 seasons in the NFL that included nine Pro Bowl selections.

He is ready for the challenge.

“Absolutely,” Green said. “He’s a great player, obviously. Hall of Fame, if you ask me. I am definitely happy to come in and help contribute as soon as possible. “

While the Steelers chose Green, Senior Bowl̵

7;s remarkable Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater Quinn Meinerz remained on board. According to most analysts, Meinerz was the highest rated center available when Steelers chose Green.

New Steelers offensive line coach Adrian Clem attended the Illinois professional day and came confident that Green was capable of playing all three offensive line positions in the interior, including the center.

“He sets the tone, especially in this position,” Clem said. “This is the belly of the beast. He goes out and plays with this behavior, which is carried throughout the group. “

The last time the Steelers used a center design project was in 2010, when they took Pouncey No. 18 overall.

Green went to Illinois with the intention of playing defense. On the advice of coach Lowe Smith, he was switched to attack in 2017, his red shirt season after adding 30 pounds. He started 12 games in the left guard in 2018 and made 12 starts in this position in 2019. In 2020, Green was selected to choose all the teams from the first team in the Big Ten, when he started three times and centered five in the top ten. the left guard.

The 22-year-old Green has made 33 consecutive starts in his three seasons in Illinois.

“He was the alpha in this program.” said Clem. “It will fit well here.”

Getting a chance to deal with the offensive line in the second round earlier on Friday, the Steelers did so in a circular motion, choosing Pat Freyermouth of Penn.

Picking a tight end so early, however, the Steelers lost two of the top five centers in the draft – Creed Humphrey and Josh Myers – before the round ended. Landon Dickerson, the best center in the class, went to Philadelphia earlier.

Five games passed before Fryermouth was selected as No. 55. Jalen Mayfield was selected early in the third (№ 70) by Atlanta, and Brady Christensen went to Carolina twice later. Minnesota was guarded by Wyatt Davis just before the Steelers’ turn.

Klemm did not anoint Green as a starting center, saying the third-round selection would have a chance to compete with BJ Finney and JC Hassenauer in training camp.

That’s fine with Green.

“I think we’ll be fine,” he said. “I just want to go in and be a sponge and learn as fast as I can.”

By the way, Mainz went 11 times later to Denver.

Joe Ruther is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Joe by email at jrutter@triblive.com or via Twitter.

Sports Steelers / NFL

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