Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is back from his vacation and in his Thursday morning blog post, he wrote that second-year offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum shouldn\’t be counted out as a possible starter at tackle or guard this year. Bouchette goes on to back up his statement by saying Beachum performed so well at right tackle last season after both Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams went down injured as the reason why he shouldn\’t be discounted.
While Beachum did represent himself well at right tackle last year, his run blocking was far from great. In fact, on the 41 running plays that went to the right side on the snaps he played, the Steelers averaged just 3.24 yards per carry. When Adams was on the field at right tackle, however, the Steelers ran to the right side 77 times for a 4.51 yards per carry average.
To take the stats even further, when Beachum was on the field, the Steelers averaged 3.44 yards per rush regardless of the direction in contrast to 4.56 yards per carry when Adams was on the field.
Yes, Adams does need to improve in the pass protection department as he did allow seven sacks in 292 passes blocking opportunities, however, as Matthew pointed out this morning in his post, tight end Matt Spaeth is likely to help Adams out some this year on the right side as the second-year tackle continues to develop that part of his game.
As far as Beachum being the starting left guard when the season opens, that just isn\’t going to happen unless Ramon Foster gets injured. While he will never be considered a Pro Bowl guard, Foster has been very consistent over the last several years in his level of play and besides, the Steelers didn\’t give him a three-year, $5.8 million contract this past offseason to be the sixth offensive lineman.
In addition to Foster\’s play and salary, Beachum has yet to prove that he can play inside. Last year during the preseason, his play at left guard was just as bad as his play at left tackle. Also, Beachum worked a lot as the backup center during the offseason practices, and unless I missed it, he didn\’t get an exorbitant amount of reps at either of the two guard positions.
Beachum is best served being the Steelers sixth offensive lineman this season, and I don\’t think he\’ll be threatening Foster or Adams for their starting spots any time soon.