Kelvin Beachum Has Come So Far, Yet Remains The Same As Ever

Think back to the tail end of the 2012 NFL draft, after the Pittsburgh Steelers made tackle Kelvin Beachum their fourth of four seventh-round draft picks, not far removed from the honor of being Mr. Irrelevant.

Recall the dreadful preseason that he had as a rookie, during which he struggled just to not be flagged for a penalty or not get in a teammate’s way, and the near disbelief over the fact that after all that, he actually made the roster.

Imagine how far he had to come to be able to be standing at the media room podium in front of the microphone addressing the gathered media during Phase One of the offseason program as the team’s starting left tackle.

That’s by no means a slight at Beachum, but rather a tip of the cap, and a token of admiration for how much work he’d had to put in to get from borderline roster credibility to blindside protector of a championship quarterback.

In reality, however, it’s not so terribly surprising.

Since he first stepped into the league, he’s been viewed by his comparatively slight stature for a modern-day tackle, (admittedly decreasingly less) awkward body composition, and baby face, which all conspire to make him far from intimidating.

But at the same time, he’s always shown himself to be an intelligent, cerebral individual. And as time has born out, he’s also got a chip on his shoulder that has helped carry him on this journey to NFL success.

And now, two years later, we find Beachum standing up in front of the podium as the representative of his fellow offensive linemen, the former 248th overall selection of the 2012 NFL draft. And he does so with confidence and authority.

“This is a new year”, he told the media. “We have new drive, we have bigger goals, and we have things to take care of right now. The past is behind us and it’s time to move forward”.

“That’s just how I see it”, he asserted, “and I think that’s how a lot of the guys see it in the room. We have to do something right now. We can’t look at the past, we can’t look at what’s been done in the past, we have to take care of what’s going on right now”.

We already knew that Beachum was a capable public speaker. He gave the commencement speech to his graduating class as he completed his Master’s degree. Jim Wexell of Steel City Insiderhad this covered back in 2012:

When it’s all said and over with, I want to be an authority figure who’s also a role model for young African-Americans. Just being able to pave the way for people of all races and ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds to be successful in life, and I think I can do it as an authority figure. I’ve got the economic background to understand the money side of it, and then also the organization dynamics, which is what the Master’s was in – being able to handle big-time organizations, understanding the inner workings of how an organization works.

When looking back, it’s easier to see that Beachum is very much still the same person that the Steelers drafted in 2012. But he’s grown up so much from a football perspective that he’s now seen in a different light. His will to succeed was there from the start, but it seemed so much more improbable back then. In 2014, it would be hard to bet against him.

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

    It’s hard not to root for that kid. I hope he has a great season.

  • dkoy85

    Great guy. Very excited to see what he learns from Munchak.

  • scott2443

    to bad alot of the other rookies around the league dont work this hard …i imagine are alot of shorter players who never get the chance to prove there worth because of there size..

  • grw1960

    Well done piece , nice read.

  • Chad H

    Sounds like a future GM! Keep working hard because I love the way you prove everyone wrong! You are a Steeler.

  • Biggie

    His progression has been amazing and fun to watch. He is as hard a worker as I’ve seen.

  • Paddy

    I think Kelvin and Baron Batch show us what the Steelers look for in players. Intelligence and character sometimes can be the difference over brawn and muscle. It’s a shame Batch got hurt, he had a future in the NFL

  • steeltown

    Nice article. Love this kid

  • Toddy Bravo

    Good job with giving Beachum some props in this article. I’ll never understand why some people are so eager to replace him at LT. Since he’s been here, he has done nothing but display intelligence, character, technique and the ability to make vast improvements in a short period of time. How on Earth are people so certain he’s not going to improve again this year. Sure, let’s draft Lewan and automatically move Beachum to a backup role after he has played well and has literally done everything right. Mr. Adams should take some notes from this guy.

  • dkoy85

    IMO thats how great locker rooms are built. You always need leaders and followers, but everyone has to have character and heart. Have to be willing to give it all up for the team. Mix in some play makers, a good QB and you have a superbowl contender.

    This year we have a new team and I’m very anxious to see who steps up. It’s looking to me like the offense will have two late round selections in Brown and Beachum who will prove what drive and determination and character and heart will get you… not matter how small. The Steelers are as good as anybody when it comes to finding these late round talents. They need to do the same in this years draft

  • 804Stiller

    Agreed, I think they lost confidence in Batch after he dropped that wide open TD pass. His pass protection was solid but not much else was special after that.

  • Johnny Loose

    Even if he does eventually slide into a backup position, if he has to come on the field, I won’t be worried at all. Definitely a fan of this kid

  • dgh57

    I remember before Beachum was drafted reading a couple scouting reports on him and they were not very favorable to him at all. Then when he made the roster over Ryan Lee that left me scratching my head on that decision since I thought Lee outplayed him in the preseason. That’s what I like to see is players especially late rounders and UDFAs that prove the naysayers wrong and end up being a valuable asset to your team. I just hope we continue to find these late round gems in future years!

  • Eric MacLaurin

    It isn’t that I or others are sure he won’t improve. It’s the idea that we shouldn’t be counting on it.

    Everything he is praised for here also works well for the first back up. I look at the line like a 5 man pitching rotation. You always want good 6th and 7th starters for injuries and if you get a new #1 starter it automatically makes your #2,3,4 & 5 starters better by bumping everyone down. It’s not exactly the same but getting an elite LT has comparable trickle down effects on a football team.

  • SumnerYoung

    Except every year they seem to draft a Chris Rainey or Mike Adams or Alameda Ta’amu. NFL level talent is their highest priority, strong character is icing on the cake.

  • Labrat0116

    One BIG difference as to why this kid is a huge success and Mike Adams is NOT.

    As this article clearly points out “He plays with a CHIP on his shoulder” ! Adams (currently) does NOT!

    I’ve suggested before that during practice the Coaching Staff NEEDS to make photocopies of the faces of those (3) punks that attack Adams, and put them over Jarvis Jones face! I wonder then if the RAGING WARRIOR that is “supposed” to be inside Mike Adams will FINALLY come blasting out in a rage of fury like he’s supposed to !!

    How bout THAT !!

  • steeltown

    Oddly enough, every name you mentioned was part of the ’12 draft class. They usually make strong character a priority.

  • SumnerYoung

    I stand corrected. I thought they were drafted over a number of years. Colbert must’ve grown a wild hair that offseason prior to the draft.

  • steeltown

    Yea that year was pretty strange, but atleast the very first and very last picks were solid (DeCastro, Beachum) would be nice if Adams and Spence contribute at some point

  • Luke Shabro

    How do you not love Kelvin Beachum. Extremely intelligent, incredibly hard working, really really high character guy and plays with a mean streak. And he has his Master’s already? Wow. Max Starks was never a premier left tackle but he was intelligent enough and he had a good relationship with Ben. He doesn’t have to be All Pro, he just has to be good enough. I love this kid

  • Travis Gunn

    And this I find it ridiculous that “experts” want us to draft a tackle. This guy is earning everything he has and has done it with class and dignity. I hope Beach and Munchak do amazing things and have it all spread through the rest of the O-Line.

  • Bob

    I don’t know. I’m sort of there on the tackle idea, but it would have to be Lewan and Robinson gone and Mathews available to pick. In any event, I’m not sure that Beachum isn’t that RARE guy that is worth his starter’s pay to be 1st of the bench when anyone needs a breather. Be DAMN nice to have a guy that you know is going to give you starter quality work at any position, run extra tackle sets some, or whatever else you ask him to do.

  • Jugs73

    Love the intangibles Beachum brings to the team. I would not discount looking at the best available tackle, though. Gilbert is not the answer at RT. Frankly, I think he is the weakest link. Lewan in 1 or Schofield in 4 or 5. Plug in next to DeCastro and rid ourselves of the decision to keep him (Gilbert) beyond next year.

  • 2winz

    I liked what Beachum did last season and am comfortable with him to think Steelers should not waste a early round pick on an offensive tackle. I want Beachum and Gilbert battling it out for LT, winner will be the starter. And I want the o-line looking like this from left to right: Beachum or Gilbert at LT, Foster, Pouncey, DeCastro, Adams. I think Adams should definitely be the right tackle even though Gilbert did pretty well last season there. I think Adams and DeCastro have a much better chemistry since they were drafted in the same year and they work out together and I just think it will translate onto the field. Adams did pretty well there himself a few seasons ago. our right side would be solid for sure and I think would create good holes for Bell

  • Steve

    Don’t think Adams has it in him or ever will. IMO He is a BIG man with litle hate and a lot of bullshit. That is how he got the Steelers to draft him.

  • Steve

    Good point Luke. The other day a guy was saying our Offensive line is a bunch of dummies. Had enough and spoke up rather quickly. Master degree is no dummy.

  • IckyD

    That has to be the best, most well-rounded and effective quote from a commencement speech i might have ever read.

    I see now how has become such a complete player- and part of it seems to stem from being a complete man.

    I’m rooting for him.

  • PoKey21

    Is Beachum better at the guard or tackle position? I know he can play both but what does he do better?

  • Toddy Bravo

    Well, I did respond to this, but was apparently censored for no apparent reason. Let’s try again. In short, I basically said that I’m all for adding good players, but I don’t understand how it’s not reasonable to count on Beachum improving, yet it is reasonable to count on a rookie, who’s rated the 3rd or 4th best player at his position, coming in, taking the starting job and setting the world on fire.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    Beech was almost undrafted, only got a job because no one else on the team could even pretend to fill and was not exceptional, requiring restrictions on the offense and constant help.

    Some people are significantly more physically gifted than others. Not being gifted means that while you might be able to do the job you will NEVER be able to do it as well as some who is gifted and also shares your intengables. It never mattered how much my little brothers tried they could never knock me down and it was funny to watch them try. A physical advantage can do the same thing on a football field.

    A top 10-15 choice is probably better from day one. It’s not like these guys are getting picked off a vine. They have been playing at a high level for years. At the time of the draft some players have NFL quality tape in terms of matchups against elite NFL quality players.