This past Saturday I flipped on the Ohio State vs. Michigan game, because even though I’m not a huge fan of any college football team in particular, I live in Ohio and feel obligated to watch that rivalry game.
In doing so though, I also wanted to keep a close eye on Michigan’s left tackle, Taylor Lewan.
Lewan’s draft stock right now looks to be in the top half of the first round, so obviously he could see some interest from Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin.
Then, on Sunday I decided to re-watch the Steelers vs. Ravens game from Thursday night. If you had to pick a face to represent the Steelers’ history of trouble protecting Ben Roethlisberger, it would be the terrifying face of Terrell Suggs.
I thought the Thanksgiving night game would be no different, however Suggs (and the entire Ravens defense) didn’t register a single sack in the game.
I won’t say that Beachum had a stellar game, and shut down one of the NFL’s best pass rusher’s all night. However, he did have a pretty solid game, and when he went down there was a very obvious drop-off in production from Beachum to Mike Adams.
Pro Football Focus actually gave Beachum a grade of 0.0 for the game, which for those that aren’t familiar, negative scores are possible (and common with Steelers’ offensive lineman). Beach allowed 1 QB hit and 2 hurries in 53 snaps. Adams gave up a hit and a hurry on 14 snaps.
Kelvin Beachem made his first career start last season in a December game against the Baltimore Ravens (a win, and the last start of Charlie Batch’s career) and made his first start at left tackle earlier this season against the Jets.
Since being drafted by the Steelers in the 7th round of the 2012 draft, Kelvin Beachum has been one of the most valuable players on the team. I’m not sure if he has a nickname in the locker room, but I’d suggest the swiss army knife. He’s seen live snaps at tackle, guard, and center.
Beachum by all accounts is one of the most intelligent and hard working guys on the team. You’d have to be to play 3 positions at the level he’s played them in less than 2 seasons of NFL experience.
The Steelers drafted two massive, and pretty athletic tackles in 6’8″ Mike Adams, and 6’6″ Marcus Gilbert, and the undersized Beachum has outplayed both with his superior footwork and athleticism.
Kelvin was thrown into the left tackle spot earlier this year, and anchored to spot for most of the past 3 games. In that time the offensive line has given up 1 sack (with none in the past 2 games).
The question now becomes, with so many holes on this roster, can we trust Beachum to be “the guy” to protect the franchise cornerstone’s blind side? I’m asking because I’m not sure what the answer is.
It’s possible that Beachum has just strung together a few good games, but would struggle long term at the spot. There is a reason, after all, that he was there in the 7th round. Beachum has great technique, and pretty good arm length for his height.
The fact that Beachum’s only 6’3″ doesn’t really bother me, because as James Harrison showed us, getting low can be a great advantage when two guys are trying to move each other. His frame does however limit how strong he can get. He can mirror a pass rusher, but it will be hard for him to pancake a defensive lineman in the run game.
Like I mentioned before though… Beachum doesn’t even have 2 seasons under his belt, and only half a dozen starts at the position, and is already better at it than anyone else on the roster. Given his work ethic and intelligence it’s not crazy to think he’ll only improve as he gets more comfortable.
It’s a shame that Kelvin was hurt in the Ravens game, and will be questionable for Miami, but once he’s healthy the Steelers should definitely leave him there for the rest of the season. They need to see if he has what it takes to be “the guy” at one of the team’s most important positions.