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Steelers 2013 Player Evaluations By Position – Tackles


By Alex Kozora

A Pittsburgh Steelers player by player recap, grouped by position, reviewing the 2013 season. To continue, a review of the offensive tackles.

Kelvin Beachum: He was the team’s Swiss Army Knife in 2013. From starting the season as a tight end eligible, to taking over at center that same after Maurkice Pouncey was lost for the year, to seeing time at guard before finally settling in at left tackle, he did it all. But Ben Roethlisberger’s blindside is where Beachum will call home in 2014.

Beachum struggled like the rest of the line until the last third of the year. His feet would go dead on his punch causing him to lunge. Instance against the Baltimore Ravens where Terrell Suggs beat him for a sack.

And here again against Oakland’s Lamarr Houston.

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He progressed the rest of the season, playing with better bend and showed the ability to mirror while maintaining his base. He showed that in my one individual game write up of him against the Cincinnati Bengals, keeping Michael Johnson in check.

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The fact I tabbed him for allowing the most sacks of anyone on the team (7) isn’t a true indication of how good of a pass blocker he has become. Beachum is a good athlete who translates that moving laterally.

He isn’t the best run blocker but it’s serviceable for a left tackle.

It’s clear the former 7th rounder has a chip on his shoulder in his claims that he wants to be the best. That drive was exemplified in a recent article on Steelers.com, describing what he did the day after the final game of the regular season.

“It had been less than 24 hours since the 2013 season had ended and Kelvin Beachum sat by himself in the player’s lounge just off the Steelers locker room watching game film.

He didn’t have to. It wasn’t required, wasn’t part of the postseason wrap-up for the players. But to get to where he wants to be, he knew it was a step in the right direction, using every opportunity to evaluate his own play. “

Although he is billed as a heady player and has to be to have the skill to play all five offensive line spots, he seemed to struggle in recognizing and passing off stunts. That isn’t all his fault. It was a problem across the board for the offensive line, and being forced to move around so much hindered him. Still, an area to focus on in 2014.

Beachum will count a miniscule 581K against the cap next season.

If he picks up where he left off, the debate over who will be on the blindside shall come to an end.

Marcus Gilbert: Gilbert caught a lot of flack for his play. Some of it is warranted but there is one key element that has to be kept in mind when evaluating his season.

He played hurt nearly the entire season. It got so bad that Ramon Foster quipped that Gilbert’s legs were “two different sizes”. Combing through my notes, there were three or four instances where Gilbert got rolled into. He never missed a start though did miss chunks of games.

Before he got hurt, Gilbert struggled in pass protection. He struggled to anchor, getting bullrushed by Carlos Dunlap in Week 2.

And getting walked into the pocket with Ben in his own end zone against the Detroit Lions.

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Throughout the season, he struggled to seal the edge and often doubled over.

He is the classic “Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane”. Not nearly the physical run blocker a 6’6 330 right tackle would expected to be. However, he does use the athleticism he has to set his hips and seal defenders as he did against the Miami Dolphins

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or work to the second level

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He led the offensive line in penalties with seven, three more than the next closest. He was the only player with multiple false starts getting flagged four times.

Gilbert had just an average season with plenty of down moments, but I want to see what he can do fully healthy. He’s good enough to comfortably enter training camp as the starter and will remain there barring a miraculous improvement from this next guy.

Mike Adams: Where to begin with Adams. It’s been covered extensively throughout the year by both me and the rest of this site (and likely any bar in downtown Pittsburgh). It was an awful season for Adams.

The idea of moving him to left tackle seemed like a questionable one at the time, but it wouldn’t have mattered what side he was on. His foundation in pass protection is horrendous, and he isn’t quick enough to handle any sort of pass rush.

I completely forgot how bad he looked against Shea Mcclellin of the Chicago Bears in Week 3.

It was the casserole of poor pass blocking. Little bit of everything mixed up into 480 offensive snaps.

From showing flatback

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To not being able to anchor versus a first punch

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Playing with heavy hands

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Getting upright

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Or not being able to mirror versus inside rushes

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He was obviously a better run blocker and occasionally shined but the tradeoff isn’t remotely close to being worth it. I’ve said I don’t know if it is possible to correct the numerous flaws in his game. His ceiling may just be a tackle eligible in running situations.

Even with two years left, it’s not a stretch to think Adams will get just one more chance to show improvement.

Also, he ran a route against the Oakland Raiders.

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Never forget.

Guy Whimper: Like any backup lineman for Mike Tomlin, Whimper wore many hats. He logged time at both guard spots and right tackle and could have been included in the interior lineman review coming up next.

I was critical of his play in the preseason but he was decent in the regular season for all the team asked of him. Not great, mind you, but I’m appreciative of a player who never knew where he might have to fill in week-to-week.

He’s set to become a free agent but it stands to reason he’ll get offered a contract and continue to serve as depth along the line.

Levi Brown: Acquired in a trade with the Arizona Cardinals, Brown tore his triceps in warmups before his first game in Week 6. Considering the Cardinals were willing to deal him because of poor play after tearing his triceps in Arizona, Brown’s career could be in jeopardy.

He is owed $6 million next season so needless to say, he will not be back.

Up Next: Interior Offensive Lineman

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  • steeltown

    I continue to be confused with the enigma that is Mike Adams.. How did he play in 10 games (starting 6) his rookie year (albeit due to injuries) on his way to winning the Steelers ROTY award only to seemingly take two steps back in his 2nd year

  • joed32

    I wonder if spending a good part of the off season recovering from his stabbing wound had anything to do with it?

  • steeltown

    For most of the year I have been keeping that in mind, he didn’t start the season at his best and one would think that has to have an effect on your core and overall strength.. that said, I would hope the coaching staff would make the right judgment call on whether he’s good to go or not. I’m willing to give him one more year, hopefully he enters the regular season at full strength and betters his technique

  • David Edward

    I think this is an area where good OL coaching can go a long way in helping to improve this unit. The OTs were a case study in poor technique for the most part. I’m not sure Gilbert will ever be much more than a lower end starting RT, but with some work I think he can be an Oliver Ross type (I know, that’s not saying much). Beachum certainly doesn’t look the part, but with some hard work in the gym and his punching and driving with his legs, he can be more than just a stopgap LT. Adams, of course, is the biggest enigma. I think the stabbing played a bigger part than he led on. Even so, he needs to get stonger and needs a complete overhaul in pass blocking technique…he’ll be a nice project for the new OL coach. I still think Adams can develop into a reasonable RT and eventually replace Gilbert..that is, if he’s willing to do the necessary work.

    Being that those three are still a work in progress, adding another draft pick isn’t the way to go for the moment. A better move is to add a serviceable vet who is LT capable and can provide depth. I’m not sure that Whimper is LT capable, so before offering him a deal to return, I’d see what else is available.

  • HopalongCassidy

    The Steelers have Embernate as a potential LG. They could also move Pouncey to LG and play Wallace and/or Velasco at C. There, the interior of the line is fixed. Next, move Foster to RT and then find a good FA LT or draft one. Keep Gilbert and Adams as backups at least for one more year. Let Whimper and Brown go. There you have it.

  • Robert Alaniz

    I think he belongs at R/T and is better than Gilbert. He was messed up in that attack which delayed him being ready to start camp and then for some reason I still don’t understand, he was moved to Left tackle.

    He wasn’t ready health wise and you can see it really shook his confidence after that and he was lost. If we put him at R/T I believe he will be the starter.

  • steeltown

    Im not sure they see it that way, but I can see what you’re getting at. Im not sure they’ll ever move Pouncey to guard, but I have always been comforted by the fact that Foster can kick out and play RT if needed.

    In all actuality Le’Veon would’ve ran for over 1,000yds this year and presumably close to 500yds receiving had he not missed the first 3games

  • ATL96STEELER

    I don’t think so either Hop…G C G is okay with Pouncey back…Probably won’t have the cap the retain him but I would love to keep Valesco. I still hold out hope that Adams is a LT, but if not, he’s certainly a RT…Beachum…I don’t want to take him off the field, but imo his best asset is versatilty…Levi Brown should be among the 1st cut…Look for a LT in the draft (not to start next yr though)…I wouldn’t even want the #1 OT off the board in front of Ben next season.

  • Jollyrob68

    Adams is a run blocking RT tackle. put him in the rightside

  • Virdin Barzey

    Even though the line has played better, I’m still very concerned about Adams and Gilbert.

    Yeah, folks claiming Gilbert played injured but we have several years of tape and he isn’t very good. He looks okay at times but he doesn’t play physical given his size. Not sure how you change that.

    Adams, I’m not sure what to say about this guy. Yeah, he was stabbed and maybe that could have been a part of it but everything looks so amateurish when it comes to pass blocking its almost laughable at times.

    I think we got hosed on these two and haven’t seen nearly the same growth as we have seen with DeCastro. Seems like a lack of talent. Guess we will be interchanging both of them at RT. They both stink at pass blocking so not sure how much that might help.

  • Callentown

    Anyone who has seen my posts before knows where I stand on this offensive line.

    Love Beachum’s attitude and smarts but he is not a true left tackle at the NFL level and will struggle against the superior defensive ends. I would prefer to see him at right tackle instead. I know this opinion is not a popular one.

    As far as right tackle goes I do not see a starter on this team currently. Adams is a bust unless we want to use him on goal line run situations only, and Gilbert who, I call ‘skates’ will never be a QUALITY right tackle.

    While his toughness is admirable that isn’t enough at this level and see him as a backup at best.

    I’d like to see them bring someone in via free agency.

    Peace all..

  • Kevin artis

    My question is who thought he was ready to start at left tackle? That person should be fired. Oh, maybe that’s why Bicknell is gone.

  • RMSteeler

    It’s hard to judge this year’s OL, or put the blame for poor performance on the individual players. Apparently, the Steelers found out early the OL coach was “below the standard”. Sure, injuries played a factor, but other teams had worse than the Steelers and adjusted mid stride. I believe there is a very good core of Offensive Linemen on both the roster and the practice squad. For me, the players get a pass for 2013, while the OL coach gets the fail for this past year. They need to hit it big on his replacement for next year.

  • westernsteel

    Tired of the Steelers dealing with average tackles. Gilbert, average at best, Adams, below average, Beachum? Probably below average for now. Crazy how hard it is to find quality lineman, many teams have the same problem.

  • HopalongCassidy

    Likely, all of the best OL coaches have jobs already. Perhaps a former all-pro who was technically proficient and wants to coach might be worth looking at.

  • HopalongCassidy

    I agree. The pass blocking got better when the Steelers kept Miller and Spaeth in to help out but that hurts the pass game when you can never let them release or release soon enough to get downfield more than a couple of yards. I just think that Gilbert nor Adams are athletic enough to ever be real good. I would be looking for another answer either via FA or the draft rather than just taking a chance on them all of a sudden blossoming next year. If they don’t, the Steelers are screwed at tackle again and that should be unacceptable .

  • mem359

    Gilbert had a good rookie season too, before the wheels fell off.

    Hopefully whoever the Steelers get for the new OL coach will get the 2nd year problems fixed.

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