Haley Says No Decision Made Yet As To Who Will Start At Left Tackle Against Jets

Will it be Kelvin Beachum or Levi Brown this Sunday for the Pittsburgh Steelers at left tackle against the New York Jets? According to offensive coordinator Todd Haley Thursday during his weekly media session, that decision has yet to be made.

“We’re working Kelvin Beachum in there, obviously, and they’re all getting work,” said Haley. “We’re trying to get them all better and ready to go.”

Brown, who has had all of four practices with his new team since being acquired via a trade last week from the Arizona Cardinals, is trying to pick up the offense and terminology as fast as he can and Haley lauded him Thursday for the effort he’s making.

“He’s doing a good job,” said Haley, who was with the Cardinals in 2007 when Brown was selected by them fifth-overall that year in the draft. “There is some carryover for him I think. Not a ton, but he’s a smart guy that has come in here and worked and is trying to get himself ready to go.”

According to Haley, Brown has a nasty temperament to him when he was asked about his demeanor and if true, the Steelers offensive line could certainly use it as that characteristic seems to be lacking now that Willie Colon is no longer in Pittsburgh.

“Not somebody that you’re always real comfortable going up to and asking a lot of questions,” Haley said while smiling.

Haley didn’t rule out both Brown and Beachum playing Sunday against the Jets and with the status of left guard Ramon Foster still sort of up in the air despite him saying he thinks he will play, we might not know for sure who will start until just before kickoff. Regardless, Haley knows quite a bit about Brown and thinks he will fit right in.

“I think he’s a veteran that’s played in the league that I have some familiarity with, obviously,” said Haley. “It’s another body that’s done it. On top of that, he’s a demeanor-type player that you like, and is a Pittsburgh Steelers type of guy.”

  • James Kling

    I have a feeling it doesn’t matter. Neither Beachum nor Brown (nor Gilbert nor Adams) has the foot speed to mirror. Period. Beachum is a solid backup OG/RT, good enough to start for stretches. Brown could be a dominant OG/RT. Adams might be an OG/RT with some work. Gilbert appears to have settled into RT. Not one of these guys can anchor the blind side against superior speed rushers, none. Zip. Nada.

    Generally, OTs need to be 6’5” or taller, with shorter OTs plugged in at OG. Marvel Smith was a shade under 6’5”, for a point of comparison. For LT, you cannot be slow and be effective. Period. That means the much-despised Indy combine 40 time actually makes a difference in how quickly a big guy on the edge can kick out. My arbitrary number has been 5.20 40 speed for the LT. The player must obviously have skills – the ability to use his hands properly, to bend and use leverage, to understand blocking schemes – but players who can’t trot the 40 in under 5.20 seconds start to suggest RT only.

    I just casually noticed the correlation between 40 and LT success, but let’s look and see if that’s true. I’d say the following are the best 10 LTs in the league (when healthy), with their 40 time and height:

    1. Duane Brown – 5.03-5.07 40 time; a little shorter than my guidelines at 6’4″, but as noted height is not the prime driver.
    2. Joe Staley – 4.79; 6’6″
    3. Russel Okung – 5.18; 6’5″
    4. Joe Thomas – 4.92; 6’7″
    5. Ryan Clady – 5.18; 6’6″
    6. Andrew Whitworth – 5.16; 6’7″
    7. Michael Roos – 5.15-5.30; 6’7″
    8. Eugene Monroe – 5.18′ 6’5″
    9. Trent Williams – 4.88; 6’5″
    10. Nate Solder – 5.05; 6’8″

    Summary: 10/10 LTs clocked times <5.20 (combine or school workout); 9/10 meet frame requirement of 6'5" or taller. I'll add another, which I had previously never used because tall guys with long arms aren't always going to rock the bench press: 20+ reps at 225#. I noticed that of these LTs, none repped more than 30 (Thomas got to 28), but 9/10 repped more than 20 (Roos came in at 19).

    So, let's compare.

    Kelvin Beachum – 5.44; 6'2"; 19 reps. Small and weak are really sideshows to how slow Beachum is. IMO, destines to fail. Of course, I thought the same of him at OG, but as they say, apples to oranges, especially kicking out to the blind side.
    Mike Adams – 5.40; 6'7"; 19 reps. Hey, he's tall. I think my comments on Adams at draft time were along the lines of slow, weak, smokes pot, so pass. Getting off the weed didn't suddenly make Mikey fast though.
    Marcus Gilbert – 5.41; 6'6"; 30 reps. Third of three without foot speed. Has some weight room strength, not sure I've seen it translate to the field. Seems to be RT-only.

    WRT to LT, destined to fail.

    Oh wait, we also have:

    Levi Brown – 5.40; 6'6"; 31 reps. Thus continuing our penchant for abysmally slow LTs. Or, what the rest of the league refer to as RTs. Workout numbers suggest he is essentially Marcus Gilbert, which is what game film suggests as well.

    Stocked to the gills with RTs, no LT anywhere to be found. There are some great WR candidates in the top 10 of the 2014 draft, but I would suggest we consider LT. For once. FFS. Just once.


    There’s a reason the Joe Thomas types go in the top 5. Those are rare athletes with the size, strength and footwork to be elite pass blockers, and good run blockers.

    A legit starting LT prospect doesn’t go in the 2nd round for positive pee test. DeCastro being a G, was a real find in that spot, but Adams was always going to need to be coached up. 0-4 put the brake on his on the job training.

  • Slab

    Interesting stats. What jumps out at me is that none of those LTs has a ring, none, zip, nadda. That tells me that a top 10 LT is not necessary to win a Superbowl. The franchise type LT types typically go so early the good teams don’t get a shot at them. If the Steelers can’t pull this season together and end up with a LT being the best player available where they pick, I hope they take him. However, the last 5 starters at LT for the Superbowl winners were 34 year old Bryant McKinnie (wonder what his 40 time is), 33 year old David Diehl (former 5th round pick), at the time 34 year old Chad Clifton (former 2nd round pick), Jermon Bushrod (former 4th round pick), and Max Starks (former 3rd round pick). This tells me that perhaps technique is just as important and maybe more important than measurables when it comes to playing LT.

  • dollardoughtnut

    how about a free agent LT with the money we save from foot- clark and perhaps keisel and draft a big WR in the 1st round

  • Callentown

    To the Steelers FO: How do you go into a season with this little talent on the O-line? Especially, as Dave points out regularly, no real back-ups. Yep, Brown was added.

    I predict the Steelers will not win a game until week 10, home against Buffalo. We would be mathematically eliminated prior to the win.

    Nice job Colbert!


    It helps to have that stud @ LT, just from a strategic standpoint, but I agree, it’s not really a SB piece…P Manning lost his starting LT and you can’t even tell.

    If a top 5, plug n play talent is there @ LT when PIT is on the board…yes, I would pick him as well…I have a feeling they will get this season turned around and we’ll be picking mid round (14 to 18) again.

  • Showboogie

    Well said

  • r4kolb

    We will win this Sunday. 27-10. Bank it.

  • TheBlitz

    Great point about P. Manning.

    Instead of exposing the weaknesses of his new LT, he minimizes his mistakes by playing to his tackle strength in the form of quick releases and taking what the D gives you.

    Ben can’t hang on to the ball for too long knowing that his tackles are average at best

  • Virdin Barzey

    None of these guys will be great at the position. Their hope is that Adams will take the demotion as kick in the but to work on his game. I just see a lack of talent all across at this position.

    Someone tell Ben his line is weak and he needs to get rid of the ball quicker. This stubborn mule will continue to play the same way and not only get himself injured but completely flush the season already in the drain.

    Haley, you may want to call plays away from that side or help those guys by letting them rush free and hit them with a screen pass. There are tons of way to help out a guy on the o-line. What can’t do is help more than one.

  • James Kling


  • James Kling

    If we could shed cap, get a top FA LT, and one of the top-10 wideouts, I’d be happy.

  • James Kling

    That’s a fair point to make. Having one of the best LTs is no guarantee to winning the Lombardi, but if the takeaway is that technique alone is the criterion for an adequate LT then I think that misses the bigger picture.
    Consider the top 10 LTs I have listed. It’s difficult to win a Super Bowl without an elite QB, Dilfer excluded. And you need all the other pieces as well, offensive playmakers, a decent defense. D. Brown has Matt Schaub, whose ceiling seems evident. Staley and Okung have young QBs and are on pretty potent squads with the 49ers and Seahawks, could definitely see both teams contending over the next 5 years. Thomas is with the Browns, ’nuff said, the carousel of QB misery is long and fabled. Clady, though on IR, is on a Broncos team that has to be the odds-on fave to win it, though he’s not party to that now. Whitworth and the Bengals, meh, I think Dalton is just another Schaub, prove me wrong. Roos, the Titans, a lot of stuff has gone wrong since their SB appearance. Monroe was with the Jags, but being with the Ravens should improve his luck. T. Williams is with the Skins, hard to forecast how the RG3 era will shake out. Solder is with the Pats, who, nauseatingly enough, are always in the running with Brady at the helm.
    So about half of that top 10 has a legit shot at the Lombardi over the foreseeable future. Point being, we could revisit this list and find that a bunch of the best LTs have rings a few years from now. But while you can win a Super Bowl without a top LT, it sure would make Ben’s job easier, and perhaps extend his career.
    Of the LTs who started the past 10 years’ worth of Super Bowls, I don’t have 40 time for Tarik Glenn. The ONLY guy with a slower 40 time than our OTs… was Max Starks (5.56). Next slowest was, again, a Steeler, Marvel Smith (5.37). Matt Light and David Diehl both had 2 appearances, and were just over 5.20 (5.29, 5.26), still faster than our guys. Of the remaining 3, Bushrod (4.92), Clifton (5.05) and yes, Bryant McKinnie (5.13) were all athletic enough coming out of college to break 5.20.
    So while having a top 10 LT is not necessary to win, not having a talented LT is surely helping us lose. And our draft criteria for selecting OTs appears flawed.


    Double, triple bingo!!!

  • Dr. Doom

    Will cost 8.5 million or more per season they simply don’t have it. Probably going to have to break the norm trade up and go get one.

  • Slab

    At the end of the day, the LT is important just because franchise QB is the most important piece to the Superbowl puzzle. the Steelers have a QB capable of making them a legitimate Superbowl contender every year. The job then becomes to surround him with enough quality at every other position, defense included, to create a team that can get to the playoffs. If you can get into the playoffs and then get hot, you can win the Superbowl as long as you have a QB like Ben. LT is only the big issue because they are 0-4 and Peppers and Allen went off. The reality is that if the defense plays a little better, the Steelers are 2-2 and we aren’t even having this conversation. I don’t care who is playing LT, 4 sacks, 2 ints and 0 fumbles isn’t going to get it done.

  • Dr. Doom

    Good point problem is Ben is not a rythym QB.

  • James Kling

    No disagreements there. I would add that having a revolving door at LT opens up the issue of greater injury likelihood – we can’t win the SB if Ben has another injury like that rib in KC last year. Gradkowski can fill in a few games, but this D isn’t gonna carry him like the Ratties carried Dilfer.

  • James Kling

    Doesn’t have to be a rhythm passer to get the ball out faster.

  • Callentown

    r4kolb, curious as to why you think that?

    That would be nice for sure. I’m worried that the Jets run defense (#2) will shut us down and with no ability to gain turnovers, we will not be able to win.

  • Dr. Doom

    He is not going to, he is what he is. You can’t ask him to stop when he has had so much success being that way. Watch him pick NY apart Sunday.

  • Dr. Doom

    Ben getting almost broke in half did not help his cause either.


    Ben has taken beatings behind better OLs…lol.

    Seriously…3-1, or say 2-2 do you think Tomlin makes a change @ LT. Adams played his worse game at the wrong time.


    Right before Ben got hurt LY, he was getting the ball out with good pace, short passes, couple of good running games mixed in.

    I’m okay with Ben playing his game, but we can’t lay it all at the feet of the OL when it doesn’t work.

  • Dr. Doom

    I don’t know honestly, Adams has been really bad. Todd Fordham bad.

  • Dr. Doom

    Agreed, he has to live to play another down. Does the team no good for him to get knocked out for 3-4 weeks. Gradkowski is a good kid but he needs to stay right where he is.


    Yes, lol…but he hasn’t been MIN bad every game…I think the record influenced his decision. We’ve had it so good for so long, we didn’t have to develop players under fire like most teams…until now.

    FWIW I think Adams would still be starting if they were 2-2 or better.

  • Pat Lopez

    I agree with Haley calling plays away from that side or helping those guys by letting them rush free and hit them with a screen pass. However, the main problem is our small receiving corp can’t get off the line of scrimmage to gain separation from the defender and our o-line can’t protect the QB. It is a recipe for disaster. If Payton Manning was the Steelers QB, he would be on the IR and filing for disability by the 4th game. Ben will throw to an open receiver. However, when there are not any open receivers within the 2 seconds because our small receiving corp can’t get off the line to gain separation, and the OL can pass
    protect, you need a QB like been Ben. Do you remember of life before Ben? Here’s a few names to refresh your memory in case you forgot: Tommy Maddox, Kordell Stewart, Kent Graham, Jim Miller, Neil O’Donnell, Bubby Brister, Todd Blackledge Mark Malone, David Woodley, Scott Campbell, and Cliff Stoudt.

  • r4kolb

    I’ll get back to you after we win brother.