On paper, the Green Bay Packers are set at guard. Last year’s returning starters, Pro Bowler Elgton Jenkins and Lucas Patrick, are under contract. Plus, the team used sixth-round choices on Jon Runyan and Simon Stepaniak last year. However, if Jenkins or Patrick wind up moving to center, there will be a hole in the lineup, though Runyan showed promise in limited action as a rookie.
Illinois’ Kendrick Green is our No. 5-ranked guard.
As a kid growing up in Peoria, Ill., Green’s role model wasn’t a football player. Rather, it was fellow Peoria native and former NBA star Shaun Livingston.
“Everybody looked up to Shaun. ... He's from the same place as us,” Green told The Herald & Review. “It's possible. That's a big reason why I always felt like it was possible for me and I can't wait to be that light for somebody else.”
At Peoria High School, Green earned an incredible 12 letters – four apiece in football, wrestling and baseball. As a senior, he had 15 sacks and 33 tackles for losses to help lead the school to its first state championship. Green arrived at Illinois as a defensive lineman. He spent his redshirt season of 2017 on the defensive line before shifting to offense for 2018 and immediately winning a starting job.
He wound up starting all 33 career games at Illinois. With five starts at guard and three starts at center as a COVID replacement, he became Illinois’ first All-American since 2011 and the first All-American on the offensive line since Jon Asamoah in 2009.
“I want to show the NFL I’m a dependable guy, a durable guy,” Green said before a pro day that cemented his status as one of the most athletic linemen in the draft class. “If teams draft me, I want to be able to slide myself into the starting lineup and organizations don’t have to worry about that position for years down the line.”
More than just a quality player, Green became a key team leader. He organized a march from campus to the Champaign Police Department in September. Coach Lovie Smith was onboard with the idea but pushed Green further in making sure the entire football team was registered to vote.
“Coach Smith was really big on it when I came to him with the idea of the march,” Green told the State Journal-Register. “He said that was good and all, it's something he believes we should do. But he said what do I think about voting? Having everybody on the team registered to vote. I have never voted a day in my life, so this is going to be my first time voting.”
In contemplating whether to turn pro or return for his senior season, Green leaned on Smith, a longtime former coach of the Chicago Bears.
“Ever since I started playing football, that’s what I wanted to do,” Green told the State Journal-Review. “I was like seven years old, and that’s what I said I wanted to do with my life. I get an opportunity to do that now, and I’ve just been working toward that forever.”
Measureables: 6-foot-1 7/8, 305 pounds, 32 1/4-inch arms. 4.88 40, 4.67 shuttle, 25 bench-press reps.
Stats and accolades: Green allowed zero sacks and six pressures in eight games in 2020, according to Pro Football Focus, when he was voted first-team all-conference and second-team All-American. Sports Info Solutions charged him with zero sacks, five blown blocks (two runs, three passes) and two holds. In 33 starts in three seasons, SIS blamed him for only four sacks and 20 blown blocks.
NFL Draft Bible says: Green is an explosive athlete out of his stance who is fast in a straight line and can climb to the second level easily. His lateral agility is also great, making him a tremendous puller. He uses his momentum to convert into power when blocking opponents on the move. As a combo blocker, Green is strong enough to knock nose tackles off balance and reach and seal linebackers. In pass sets, he gains depth easily and mirrors rushers with his active feet. Green does not have the strongest anchor as he can be bull-rushed by strong defenders. Green projects as a potential starter at either interior offensive line spot in a zone running scheme that utilizes his athleticism by getting him on the move.
About This Series
Packer Central is introducing you to the top prospects, both on and off the field, in this year’s NFL Draft. The series is starting with the top five at each position, then will add additional players as the draft approaches, with a focus on positions of need.