What Can Beachum Do For You?

By Matthew Marczi

More specifically, what can Kelvin Beachum do for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013? There has been some discussion, fueled by the likes of Ed Bouchette and Dale Lolley, that Beachum has possibly earned the right to start over Marcus Gilbert at right tackle, and they have used shaky reports from camp in order to fuel that dialogue.

Through two preseason games, however, I see no compelling reason to remove Gilbert from the starting line, nor do I see anything notable in Beachum’s game that tells me that he needs to be in the starting lineup. Frankly, I’ve found that narrative to be silly from the beginning. If anybody would like to bring up the fact that Gilbert was involved in a few other players’ injuries last year as a reason that he should not be starting, I’ve got some screen shots to show you as well.

With that said, it is hard to deny that the Steelers have, frankly, already gotten good value out of Beachum as a compensatory seventh-round draft pick, starting five games as a rookie and not getting his quarterback ripped in half. And he looks a lot better this preseason than he did around this time last year, although that is not saying much. With that said, below are my observations on Beachum’s play during the team’s second preseason game against the Washington Redskins in the second half, during which he played every snap at left tackle.

The second-string got off to a bad start right out of the gate, with right guard Guy Whimper giving up a sack on a linebacker blitz on the first offensive snap of the second half. On the next play, Beachum did a nice job of walling off linebacker Brandon Jenkins, setting up running back Jonathan Dwyer with some room to run after taking a shallow pass. On third down, he never really got out of his backpedal as Jenkins rushed against him, as he was also shading to his right, looking to help left guard Chris Hubbard. By the time he attempted to set, he was right at Bruce Gradkowski’s feet, who rushed a pass attempt for an incompletion to force a punt.

On the next offensive possession, he started off by successfully sealing off the backside of a run that should have gained more than two yards if Dwyer would have actually run behind his block rather than try to bounce it outside, which has been a recurring theme for the fourth-year back this preseason.

Fortunately, he did well to avoid defenders and hit the hole on the next play, in part thanks to Beachum sticking with his block on defensive end Phillip Merling, even if he did get away with a bit of a hold. The block really typifies the type of player that Beachum is: a complete overachiever who does anything he can to get the job done.

That is a good constitution to have in a reserve lineman. In this case, it was the difference between a short gain and a first down. He evens shows off a little bit of strength initially in leveraging Merling to the right, even if he was unable to maintain that leverage. Still, it is worth pointing out as something we may not have seen from him last year.

Steelers Redskins Beachum animated gif

Of course, Merling wins the leverage battle on the very next play on a run to the inside and makes the tackle on Dwyer after a rather modest two-yard gain. Merling was able to easily stalemate Beachum at the point of attack and shed him to attack the back just as he hits the hole. Consistency may never be a prominent element in Beachum’s repertoire, unfortunately.

Steelers Redskins Beachum animated gif

The play immediately following was not pretty either as he cautiously dipped off Merling to ultimately push Jenkins around the already-established pile, under which rested Dwyer beneath a pile of Redskins, who collapsed the right side of the offensive line. It was most certainly inelegant, but it got the job done. On the ensuing third and 10 run, Beachum made a noble attempt to get to the second level to throw a block, but he was too late. He was bailed out by Guy Whimper, of all people, who made the block and afforded Alvester Alexander an extra five yards or so, though still short of a first down.

One thing that Beachum should be commended for is that he generally sticks with the play, and even looks for the next person to block if he clears his first responsibility. At times, he even approaches the task with aggression. He seemed to show traces of that a couple of times on the next drive as he began to get into the groove of the game. He did a nice job giving Landry Jones a clean pocket to deliver the deep ball to Markus Wheaton.

On second down in the red zone, Beachum was beaten off the line by Jenkins, who got a hand on the quarterback. In fact, Beachum got away with a pretty significant hold. He kind of looked like a child being dragged along while holding onto his mother’s dress. Fortunately, Jones was able to step up in the pocket and find Derek Moye on a crossing route to set up third and short.

Steelers Redskins Beachum animated gif

Beachum’s best attribute may very well be his quick feet. That is not to say that he has excellent footwork, but he is able to move quickly, which not only helps him get off the line quickly, but also lets him recover from mistakes more often.

He got the opportunity to display his quick feet regularly in the fourth quarter, as the Steelers were trailing, and thus airing out the ball frequently. Beachum likes to use his quick feet to drop out into open space, which helps take some of the heat off the pass rusher’s fastball. Given that core strength is not Beachum’s forte, I consider this a good thing.

Beachum seems to frequently find himself on an island to the quarterback’s left, defending a rusher one on one, and overall, he does a pretty good job of that. Once he is isolated one on one and able to use his hands, he is generally able to hold his own. On this play, however, he did not. In fact, given that tight end Jamie McCoy chipped the rusher, Beachum’s man really had no business being in the backfield here.

Steelers Redskins Beachum animated gif

Still, he was able to finish on a strong note, displaying some nice work in pass protection during the final two-minute drill with the Redskins bringing at least four or five rushers on every play. Even on the first play of the series, when Jenkins, the outside linebacker, got an excellent break off the snap, Beachum was on him right away. He could have been called for a hold, but he really did not need to, even if Jones were not flushed from the pocket.

Steelers Redskins Beachum animated gif

So what can Beachum do for you? Well, he can generally hold his own in pass protection, but it will not be pretty. He will give you extra effort and try to get in on blocks downfield at the second level, even if he cannot finish the block. He probably will not afford you much room in the running lanes, and he will draw some holding calls with some more observant officials. His quick feet can make up for some of his deficiencies in some areas, but not all of them. He already proved last year that he can start if you need him to, but that does not make him a starter.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • 2443scott

    i feel if steelers would put beachum in one spot and keep him there he be a out standing line man in that spot for years to come i think moving him around so much makes him weaker as a player then it would if he stayed in one spot …i can see why they move him around because he has talent to …but build a line and stop sticking people in here there and every where …it be nice to have a player or 2 able to do what he does but draft some one for that keep a guy with talent doing one thing and he be the first piece stone in the castle wall …i think the line is there now it just needs to be coached …we cant have one guy in line thinking well if i mess up one play i will be pulled out the line last few years thats all thats been happening next man up well let that man sit and have guy who was the starter learn ..if it takes a whole season and a loseing season for the line to mesh and 8 10 years down road having the best off-line for those years it might be worth it …we never know what this line can do if we start now moving people around again …

  • Mkeller

    Great analysis. You magnify the greatest concern on that line. If (even though you disagree) men who cover the steelers professionally think a serviceable 7th rd backup type should be starting over the pedigreed 2nd round projected starter there may be an issue. I get the feel that Bouchette not so much thinks Beachum is lighting it up as he thinks Gilbert is inadequate. If that is the case then the concerns about o-line depth are far more grave than most initially thought.

  • Paul

    Man, it’s really difficult to read your comments, because your grammatical errors are all over the place. I’m sorry, but damn! I stopped reading your novel after the first 2 sentences. Lol.

  • falconsaftey43

    In the 4th GIF there, Beachum actually does a very good job of pushing his man 10 yards upfield. The DE would have never been involved on the play if the G wasn’t beaten so badly, forcing Jones back. If the G did his job, Beachum’s man would have been easily pushed around the pocket.

  • RW

    Though this is a small sample set, the lineman who really stood out to me on tape was Chris Hubbard. He was man handling D-linemen like none of the other offensive linemen were. Using the sample set you have, I only saw him get beat once, but he recovered nicely. If Landry Jones hand’t gotten scared and instead stepped up into the pocket, he probably would not have taken that sack. Just an observation. I could be way off the mark with Hubbard using only what I’ve seen here. I’ll be watching him closely tonight, particularly in the run department.

  • greeny

    61 looks pretty damn awful pass protecting. He got beat on every pass play and got away with a holding call except for the one where the redskin player 92 trips and falls down. Nice GIF’s. Love studying these

  • Brendon Glad

    “And If anybody would like to bring up the fact that Gilbert was involved in a few other players’ injuries last year as a reason he should not be starting, I’ve got some screen shots to show you as well.”

    That made me chuckle. OH…it was just a FEW…my bad. Shoot, maybe the Steelers should be talking about an extension then…since it was just “a FEW”. I’m sorry for the sarcasm, but if Steelers Nation is supposed to feel better about Marcus Gilbert by watching animated GF’s of BEACHUM playing poorly, then I can’t speak for the Nation, but I can speak for me. That’s not going to help my worries one bit about Gilbert.
    All it will do is re-emphasize the point I made before camp even started…that if the Steelers are a mediocre team, the first place to look at as a reason will be the Tackle position that is not manned by Mike Adams.

  • Brendon Glad

    Well, if you made it through the first sentence, you should have been able to see that he’s probably correct on the most important part of his comment. At least in my opinion.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Bouchette actually does seem to have rose-colored glasses regarding Beachum:

    “Don’t count out Kelvin Beachum as a possible starter at tackle or at guard. He performed so well at right tackle last season after Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams were injured that he has a chance to compete to start. Don’t know whose job he might take, but he has the looks of a winner.”

    In reality, he didn’t perform “so well” last year…he survived.

  • Matthew Marczi

    The screen shots are of Gilbert not being at fault for the injuries. GIlbert is clearly better than Beachum. I did a breakdown of Gilbert’s play from the Redskins game as well, but it hasn’t been posted yet.

  • Brendon Glad

    For the record…it was FOUR, by my count.
    1) Johnson (season ender…maybe even a career ender…we shall see)
    2) DeCastro (1/2 season-ender)
    3) Pouncey (a game ender and I think he missed 1 more off of that)
    4) Gilbert himself (season ender)
    The animated GF’s i’d like to see would be the ones that say I’m wrong with the number of 4. THAT would make me feel better. I only see the games once, so I’d love it if my memory is failing me. Trust me, I’m rooting for Gilbert every bit as hard as you are, Mr. Marczi. I’d love to be wrong on him.

  • Brendon Glad

    I’d love to see them. You are a good, smart football writer. Trust me, I literally PRAY you are right. But not just as Gilbert being better than Beachum. I have no solid opinion on that. Only about Gilbert not being poor. THAT’S the key one I hope you prove me wrong about.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Just a forewarning that, if I recall correctly, posts that contain links require approval before they’re displayed. So the summation of the injury situation will eventually appear below this post.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I had this conversation about Gilbert injuring people about a month ago on the Steel City Insider forum. Therefore, I’m just going to copy and paste what I said there, so please keep in mind that this post was in response to somebody else, and not to you:

    “I still to this day have not seen a replay of the David Johnson injury. They never showed a replay of it because it was a deep incompletion and they don’t care about a no name fullback getting injured in the preseason, so they never actually broadcasted the injury. They merely mentioned that it happened. And frankly I still don’t understand how it happened because the two were nowhere near each other as the cameras tracked the ball out of Ben’s hand down the field, so I can’t comment on that.

    However, on the other two plays, it was far more than Gilbert not being able to “keep his feet”. On the DeCastro injury, the whole line was getting pushed back 5 yards into the end zone. Both Gilbert and DeCastro were pushed into each other and their legs got tangled. Gilbert didn’t simply fall on him. When people get their legs tangled up, they tend to fall down.

    Finally, on the Pouncey injury, Gilbert had his legs cut out from under him by Derrick Morgan. Will Johnson threw a chip block on him, which caused Morgan to lose his feet. It seems as though Morgan then intentionally tried to crash into Gilbert’s legs by whipping his body into him, and he succeeded in taking his legs out and knocking him down as he was trying to protect his knees. He then just happened to fall on Pouncey’s leg.

    Whether or not Gilbert has an issue with staying on his feet, those two plays are not an example of such a problem. I just watched these replays to verify my observations so I’m not just going on faint traces of memories colored by bias. I even took the liberty of providing screen caps to illustrate my point. In the first, you can see that Gilbert was still on his feet when he and DeCastro bumped into each other, and that their feet were tangled. The second image shows Gilbert being taken off his feet by a falling Derrick Morgan diving at his knees.

    image 1: http://i.imgur.com/vBZfOfO.jpg

    image 2: http://i.imgur.com/TJXC0PC.jpg

    As far as injuring himself…I mean, do you blame Sean Spence for his injury? What about Heath Miller? Was that his fault?

  • Matthew Marczi

    Hubbard had his ups and downs. I would say that he was probably the third-best second-stringer behind Beachum and Malecki on the night, although I wasn’t watching him closely. He had a nice blitz pickup on the touchdown pass to Moye.

  • Brendon Glad

    ok. thanks. I’d “love” to see them again. And hope that my memory has over-exaggerated the Gilbert-factor in each of them. I truly do.