With the league’s new year 2022 there will be plenty of questions for quite a while, even as the Pittsburgh Steelers spend money and cap space and use draft picks in an effort to find answers. We don’t know yet who will be the quarterback, although we have a good idea. How will the offensive line be formulated? How will the secondary develop amid changes, including within the coaching staff? What does Teryl Austin bring to the table – and Brian Flores? What will Matt Canada’s offense look like without Ben Roethlisberger?
It is these types of uncertainties that I will seek to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each episode I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments to buy it (meaning you agree with it or expect it to be true) or sell it (this which means you disagree with it or expect it to be wrong).
Subject statement: Kevin Dotson will be in 2022 the most anticipated player he is in 2021 (that is to say a quality starting goalkeeper).
Explanation: A 2020 fourth-round pick, Kevin Dotson spent his rookie season as a reserve but was forced to play early due to forward injuries. He started four games in total, two at right guard early on and then two at left, playing well enough that many people felt he was their safest intended starter for the 2021 season. didn’t exactly happen that way.
Not everyone follows a constant upward trajectory during their career. It’s a statement that could work for or against Kevin Dotson. Did he perform beyond his basic ability level as a rookie? Last year, was the outlier due to health?
What we do know is that Dotson is able to play well. How do we know this? Because we saw him play well. He was actually pretty good, overall, at pass protection during his playing time in his rookie season. There’s no reason he can’t do it in 2022.
And he should. On the one hand, he must be motivated. He entered the beloved Steelers Nation, as a jolly big guy who came with his own Terrible Towel. He played well at the start. It was the guy. Then last offseason there was a report that the team was not happy with him. He entered training camp injured and sat for a while. He had to regain his place in the starting XI.
And the whole line started out like garbage. Dotson was playing between two rookies who were in over their heads. His game started to settle down midway through the season, but then he suffered a sprained ankle, which eventually wiped him out for the rest of the year. He’s still the same guy everyone was praising at the end of the 2020 season, who blamed the coaching staff for not replacing Matt Feiler in the playoffs.
Here’s the other side of that argument, again. Not everyone has a consistent trajectory. Is the 2020 season the best we’ll see from Dotson? It might be. it certainly wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen this from a rookie. Remember how close Artie Burns and Sean Davis were heading into the 2017 season?
We don’t even know what was true from the reports last offseason. But we do know that Tomlin brought Dotson back into the starting lineup, against a guy who wasn’t even on the roster.
And, well, his regular season strip when he came into the lineup wasn’t great either. Only much of this can be explained by the performance of those around him. He has a lot to account for himself. He was drafted as a road leveler, but he hasn’t been a very good run blocker yet, even in 2020. That’s a big mystery right now. We don’t even know if he’s going to start. The coaches don’t know. He will have to earn it.