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.
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.
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.
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
or work to the second level
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
To not being able to anchor versus a first punch
Playing with heavy hands
Or not being able to mirror versus inside rushes
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.
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