By Matthew Marczi
Second-year tackle Kelvin Beachum made only his second career start as a left tackle in the ranks of the professionals this past week, but he spent his entire college career as a left tackle before playing right tackle, left guard, center, and tight end in the NFL.
I don’t know whether Beachum is left-handed or right-handed, but I honestly don’t care at this point. He is growing at the position regardless of which hand shovels the spoon into his mouth when he eats. I cannot say whether he can or will truly develop into a legitimate long-term answer as a starting left tackle, but he is proving to be an adequate stopgap for the time being.
The general narrative on Beachum has been that he is solid overall in pass protection, but he does not get push in the running game. Here, as least, he is able to help seal the edge on a third and two carry for a first down by blocking down on Arthur Jones. And thanks to a bit of a helping hand by Heath Miller, Beachum is able to open up the C Gap a couple plays later for Le’Veon Bell.
Another facet of Beachum’s game that has been a staple of praise has been his motor and the energy that he brings to the game, and I don’t think, despite the absolutely marginal impact that it had, any play better exemplifies that trait better than this one:
Here is Beachum, ten or more yards down the field, blocking down on a cornerback that does not appear to have any interest in getting involved in the play. But you can bet that the coaches have an interest in seeing their young, overachieving left tackle carrying out that assignment.
As previously mentioned, it was generally Beachum’s work in pass protection that was mostly talked about. He has the footwork, and usually the hand placement, for the assignment, even if his strength sometimes fails him.
But what has possibly been the biggest improvement that he has brought to the position over Mike Adams is the intelligence with which he plays, namely in his ability to identify and play off stunts, which is what he does on Derek Moye’s big catch.
The Ravens here have Courtney Upshaw with his hand in the dirt and Terrell Suggs standing on his outside shoulder. After Miller releases Suggs, the outside linebacker crosses into the A Gap, but Fernando Velasco picks him up. Beachum—showing help all the way, with his right arm outstretched in Upshaw’s direction—quickly moves to help Ramon Foster keep Upshaw out of Ben Roethlisberger’s face, and it results in a big play.