By Matthew Marczi
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum has consistently surprised since the team drafted him in the compensatory portion of the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft. The surprise early on was just how poorly he played in his first preseason, and then the surprise was that he made the team.
Since then, on the other hand, he has been a pleasant surprise, from not embarrassing himself at right tackle to showing the ability to fill in in an emergency at center to, finally, somewhat settling in as the starting left tackle for the Steelers, defying all expectations—though the latter was aided by the failures of Mike Adams.
Beachum has some ability as a pass protector with his sound technique and quick feet. He hasn’t been quite as impressive as a run blocker—the area in which Adams is at times able to excel—but his hustle and determination help him along the way even when his abilities give out on him.
It doesn’t always work out, of course. Early in the first quarter, Beachum was beaten to the outside by Billy Winn, who forced Le’Veon Bell to cut the run inside as he tried to escape the defensive end’s flailing grasp. Though Beachum was able to recover to help keep Winn off of him, the redirection merely led Bell right in to the arms of other defenders for a minimal gain on the busted play.
Not surprisingly, Beachum seemed to have a bit more success blocking for the run when he was allowed to get out in space to impede a defender. That was his assignment on a seven-yard gain by Bell late in the first quarter. Coming off the line at the snap, he stuck to inside linebacker Craig Robertson like a fly on a pile of garbage and pushed him clear out of the running lane.
Winn continued to give Beachum problems in the running game, as on this run early in the second quarter. In reality, the play was destined for failure as Buster Skrine cut off the outside edge where the play was heading, but Beachum allowing Winn to escape assured that it would not be a success.
Once again out in space, Beachum this time drove D’Qwell Jackson out of the play on a seven-yard gain by Bell. There certainly seems to be a theme here.
Putting Beachum out in space allows him to use his agility while minimizing some lingering strength issues that continue to be an area of needed growth for the young offensive lineman.