Can Kenyon Green Beat the Data and Bounce Back?
Entering his second year in the NFL it is almost now-or-never for Green.
Kenyon Green has a chance to do something players in his position rarely do.
It sounds simple, and maybe even outlandish, but Green has to bounce back in 2023 after the rough rookie season. If he doesn’t, that might be all he has to offer.
Joe Goodberry did a study in February. What it boils down to is Pro Football Focus grades show a trend in guard play. Players who were poorly graded as rookies usually remain below-average players in the following couple of seasons.
Kenyon Green finished 77th out of 77 qualified guards according to Pro Football Focus. Both guards drafted after him in the first round, Zion Johnson in Los Angeles and Cole Strange in New England, played significantly better. As did center Tyler Linderbaum, which is notable considering center was a position where the Texans struggled last year as well.
The Houston Texans used the 15th overall selection last year on Green and thought the team had found their starting left guard. Green was considered by many draft prognosticators to be ready for action right away. He was thought to have a high floor meaning his play would be solid even on an off day.
Through one year, the draftniks are wrong. Kenyon Green needs to prove them right.
Hope isn’t lost for Green. Not yet. His new teammate Shaq Mason is one of the guards who broke the mold in the above-mentioned study and made huge strides from his rookie season to his second. Green battled injuries last season as he entered camp, costing him reps and likely keeping him from being in the shape he needed to be.
Kenyon Green didn’t have a total loss on the season. He flashed some of the purported skills and steadiness in the preseason and early in the regular season. There are some Chicago Bears defensive linemen who are still seeing stars after tussling with Green.
By midseason though, the competition kicked up and the rookie suffered.
Tennessee Titans All-Pro Jeffery Simmons dominated Green even using the rookie as an instrument to tackle a Texans running back. Green then tried to handle Javon Hargrave and Fletcher Cox of the Philidelphia Eagles with little success. No rest for the weary as second-team All-Pro Dexter Lawrence was next. Jonathan Allen of the Washington Commanders manhandled Green in a similar way as Simmons.
The stretch of defensive linemen Green faced would test even the best guards, but it seemed to sink him. There would be little to write home about for the rest of Green’s season.
The new season is here though. Green is hopefully healthy and in great shape. He is on the shortlist of players who will be observed and judged immediately on their physical appearance. There is not some amazing veteran or incredible rookie to push him. Green will have every opportunity to bounce back.
The position desperately needs consistency. The organization hasn’t had consistently above-average guard play since Wade Smith in 2013.
The mauler who protected his fellow Texas A&M Aggies is still in there, he just hasn’t shown up much in the NFL. Green also is the lineman who will be under the most scrutiny. Laremy Tunsil is elite. Tytus Howard is solid. Shaq Mason is a respected above-average player at guard. The center spot will likely be occupied by a rookie thus giving that player an excuse that was sometimes afforded to Green last year.
The job is his, for better and hopefully not worse.
Will Kenyon Green bounce back? Let’s find out as 2023’s season begins.
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