Steelers Lineup Turnover 2014 – Left Tackle

When you look back just to the start of last season and project the starting lineup that the Pittsburgh Steelers can be expected to field when they resume play in September, you’ll see that they’ve undergone quite a bit of change. Certainly more than usual.

With two exceptions—Heath Miller and Le’Veon Bell—the changes to the opening day lineup will be made either due to free agency losses or gains or simply superior play. The two aforementioned players, of course, projected as starters but missed the early portions of last season due to injury.

This series will take a look primarily at the starting positions that will be filled by new faces, replacing the old faces that are now gone—Emmanuel Sanders, Ziggy Hood, LaMarr Woodley, Larry Foote, and Ryan Clark. But the first changeover comes in the shape of a demotion.

Position: Left Tackle

2013 Opening Day Starter: Mike Adams

Projected 2014 Starter: Kelvin Beachum

When the Steelers drafted Mike Adams in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, they did so envisioning an image of their offensive line of the future, with Adams protecting Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side. With the move, they asked Willie Colon to move to guard, so certain were they in their plan’s success.

When they drafted Kelvin Beachum, they intended to play him at guard, a position at which they’d just drafted David DeCastro in the first round and where they’d just moved Colon. If he were to make the roster, he was clearly destined to be a backup.

But they also had a belief that he could be trained at all five positions, perhaps becoming a Trai Essex 2.0. That came in handy in the season opener last year when Maurkice Pouncey went down, but after a few more games, Beachum found himself in a much bigger role.

Adams won the starting left tackle job from Marcus Gilbert during training camp. The coaches flip flopped the two one day and simply never moved them back. Gilbert, however, went on to start every game last year at right tackle.

Adams, on the other hand, was benched and relegated to tight end for most of the rest of the season, filling in for a spot start at left tackle for one game late in the year.

Beachum started 11 games at left tackle, and the Steelers won eight of them, while losing all five games started by Adams.

Of course, Beachum is by no means a lock to resume where he left off. 2014 is a new season, and Mike Munchak is approaching this offensive line with fresh eyes. I believe both tackle positions are very much up for grabs during training camp and the preseason.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Adams finds his way back at left tackle by the season opener. Perhaps Munchak can clean up his technique and help him reach his potential. But as of right now, he may have a more realistic shot at competing for the right tackle job.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

    It is important to remember, as you stated, that Adams beat out Gilbert for the LT spot.

  • steeltown

    I think there’s a good chance he could beat out Gilbert for the RT spot as well..or atleast make him expendable after this season

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    Some guys are just not meant to be nfl players, 2014 should tell the tale.

  • Steel PAul

    Unfortunately, I believe the Steelers missed on this pick with Adams. For a LT to not be able to pass protect is not just a simple adjustment.

    If he were the LT of the future, he would have come in much closer to being able to play.

  • Babybull

    You forget he was stabbed last year so he got better later in the season I think he will be much better this year.

  • James Kling

    What I don’t understand is, if Adams beat out Gilbert for LT, why was he relegated to basically being a TE rather than taking over at RT? Maybe Munchak can coach him up, but I’m starting to smell a bust…

  • steeltown

    He was named the Steelers Team ROY after starting all those games at RT and excelling in his rookie season.. maybe he’s a RT

  • Steel PAul

    I don’t recall him necessarily excelling, but my memory only goes back a few weeks these days. Care to recall some of what he did that was worthy of that ROY designation? Thx

  • steeltown

    He started 5-6 games at RT his rookie year after Gilbert went down with injury, coincidentally in those 5 starts Dwyer and Redman both ran for over 100yds, Dwyer had 2 consecutive 100+yd games. We historically ran a lot to the right side. Take from that what you will, coincidence or not

  • Bill Sechrengost

    Gilbert is a free agent after this year. This could be his last year with the Steelers, unless he shows more than he has. As of now, I can’t see the Steelers signing him to an extension. I think they’ll wait to see what he does this year. I would hate to think both Gilbert and Adams wind up both being busts. That would definitely be a setback.


    idk what Adams is yet, but I think it was clear he wasn’t ready to play LT LY out of the gate…as the year went he played much better…granted he was not a plug n play LT, but that’s a once every 4 or 5 year player.

    Beech may start, but I’m not ready to say Adams was a miss.


    Bust don’t start as many games as Gilbert has, but I agree he’s not likely to be retained unless it’s in a backup role unless he can break through this year.

  • Steel PAul

    However, he was protected late in the year because of his lack of Pass Blocking skills. So they had another player help him or kept him out of those situations altogether.

    I’ll give Munch a chance to see what he can do with the guy, but players who can’t pass block aren’t much use outside of goal line situations in power running attack. This is why ‘steeltown’ is playing him at RT instead.


    Just taking an overview position…most of the high LT draft picks don’t start out playing LT in the NFL…most have been getting seasoned @ RT and moving after a season or some games played there. Shading help to a rookie LT or RT is not that usual imo.

    Adams didn’t drop to 2nd rd grade just on a pot test…he needed more seasoning and it showed…whether he’s a LT or RT, I’m not prepared to say yet…I think he’s better than Gilbert.

  • Steel PAul

    Man, I sure hope you’re right. I’m not much of a Gilbert fan either – lol


    As athletes, Gilbert has RT feet, Adams is lighter on his feet, but wasn’t strong enough to handle the bull rush so that threw off his whole game @ LT…I wouldn’t be shocked if the rookie they brought in from Vandy doesn’t end up being one of the starting OTs long term.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I think Adams starts at LT and Beech backs up a majority of the line.

  • James Kling

    I like your analysis on this ATL. IMO, Wes Johnson is exactly the kind of value prospect Munchak can develop. He’s lighter on his feet than either Gilbert or Adams, and while he needs to develop strength and technique, he’s got the frame to do so, and he’s bigger than Beachum. All through the pre-draft process I thought of Bitonio as a poor man’s Zach Martin and Johnson as a poor man’s Bitonio. Question is, how much of a drop-off is there from one guy to the next? Johnson’s stats at Vandy were pretty impressive.

  • NW86

    Yes, – that was a small sample size and I’m not a big film studier so I’m not going to say how much correlation there was, but it’s at least worth noting the success they had with him at RT. And regardless of those handful of games, I think it’s pretty widely accepted that Adams is a better run blocker than he is a pass blocker. And everyone also knows that pass blocking is of prime importance to the LT spot.
    IMHO, I actually think Adams should be given a shot at RT, with Gilbert and Beachum competing for the LT job. Who knows – I just hope they figure it all out by week 1 and everyone plays well enough and stay healthy enough to keep their positions all season for continuity. That’s something we haven’t had on the O-line in years.

  • Matt Manzo

    I think Adams will wrestle the RT spot from Gilbert! I think Beach has a chance but I eventually see us getting a true LT next year. Even if Beach dominates, Gilbert will walk and we’ll still need a tackle.

  • Milliken Steeler

    Agreed. To me Matt, Gilbert is the fraud and will be exposed by Munchak if he comes into camp close to anything he was last year conditioning wise.

    I think we mismanaged Adams ( with all due respect ) last year. We put him from R/T where he was run blocking quite well to L/T? His weakness was his Pass blocking and coming off an injury from a stabbing and missing time…..we put him on the blind side?

    When his confidence went that was it. I noticed he worked hard and was starting to be brought back in during certain situations as the season went on.

    I hope we put him back at R/T where he belongs and is better than Gilbert.

  • Matt Manzo

    Exactly! I can’t wait to see what Munchak does with these guys! I wish I could go to camp! That’s why in hoping we’re on Hard Knocks.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Admittedly I have a bit higher opinion of Gilbert than you do. Unfortunately, he has a tendency to be a hot and cold player, but the fact that he was dealing with injuries throughout the season (despite the fact that he started every game) certainly affected his abilities last year. I’ve written on this topic before, but 2014 is a BIG year for all three tackles to prove who they really are. Gilbert has the most at stake with his free agency status, so we’ll see. As I wrote in the article, I think Munchak comes in here with fresh eyes and gives all of them a shot at both positions and plugs in the best two that he sees.

  • Milliken Steeler

    I agree to a point Matt. He collapsed just trying to finish the basic conditioning test during camp last year and coming off an 8-8 season and the first year of the offseason cba workouts… flags went up with me.

    We shall see and I agree Munchak will expose whoever the weak links may be.

  • Milliken Steeler

    Stabbed, missed time and then comes back starting on the blind side. I think Big Mike has taken a verbal beating and will be coached back up by Munchak and wind up working out just fine for us.

  • Steel PAul

    I guess it seemed a little different to me. Adams seemed to have issues with hand placement and kept getting them slapped away and washed past.

    I see Adams as heavier on his feet than Gilbert, whereas Gilbert tends to get shoved back into the pocket – pretty consistently.

  • Dewayne Braxton

    He came back with a clean bill of health.

  • Dewayne Braxton

    When they are on a bad offensive line they do.

  • Dewayne Braxton

    This is to everyone. I take a lot of flack for criticizing this Oline but I see many of you pointed out the same concerns. Adams has not shown any ability to play left tackle. And if he is better than Gilbert, and I think he is, then Gilbert is a fraud/bust. Althoughit was spot action, IMO Guy Wimper actually out played Gilbert. Now if you have a fraud at right tackle and a bust on the bench or playing tightend, and an undersized guard at left tackle. Oh well I’ve said enough. I wish them the best. Want to get back to Steeler’s football.

  • Weiss Chad

    To me Adams don’t get out of his stance fast enough against pass rush


    That can happen…Hood/Gilbert played a number of games and never lived up to their draft status, but both will get a 2nd NFL contract… Sweed…was a legit bust.


    I don’t doubt that…but I didn’t intend to drill down into their flaws…lol

    This is jmo…Gilbert has had enough snaps to say that he is what he is going to be…Adams, the sample is too small to say.

  • Steel PAul

    Well, why not. We’ve got all this time before we have anything meaningful to actually discuss, right? lol

  • James Kling

    That’s what I’m hoping.


    I suppose…I like the Shazier pick a lot, but I would’ve been happy to see a legit LT prospect be there @ 15 to put this position to rest for a decade…But, aside from maybe Matthews, I don’t think any OT in this draft would start @ LT in PIT this season barring a major injury.

    On Adams…again, those that are saying he can’t play LT might be right or they might not…4 gms is not a large enough sample.

    Gilbert…I think we’ll see either Adams or Wesley Johnson starting @ RT in ’15.

  • Dewayne Braxton

    Beach has to to prove he can play without tightends helping him. That is a long ways from dominant. Remember he played by default -not because they were in love with him. When Pouncey went down they signed Velasko and Beach was there. When Adams regressed to bad to play, they signed Levi Brown..TO START and Beach was there. The staff is not in love with this guy.

  • Matt Manzo

    It could easily implode this year! I think we’re all hoping Adams turns the corner. Pretty much everyone believes Gilbert’s days are numbered. People seem split on Pouncey; they either love him or hate him. Foster held his own last year and Decastro is improving.
    For me, Beachum is the big question! Can he hold down LT and Protect Ben? I hope so but I’m scared!
    There’s a lot of reason to criticize this Oline.


    Adams seemed to play the run at RT better than Gilbert. I also smell a bust (possibly two?) but I think the stench is coming more from Gilbert than Adams.