By Matthew Marczi
End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.
Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.
Player: Kelvin Beachum
Position: Left Tackle
Experience: 2 Years
There’s no doubt in my mind that as disappointing the development of Mike Adams was in 2013, the progress of Kelvin Beachum was encouraging to that same extent. No reasonable person truly believed that Beachum could be in a position to call himself a starting left tackle by the end of the year.
And that was a year in which he began as a tight end before quickly being forced to move over to center in the season opener when Maurkice Pouncey went down. With the newly acquired Cody Wallace not dressed, Beachum, who’d never played center in a meaningful game before, was the next man up.
While he did a respectable job, both at center and tight end—and later in the season even at guard when injuries really started to mount—the story of Beachum’s season will not be about his position flexibility for a change.
Instead, it will be about how he took over the left tackle position just five games into the season after Adams struggled and didn’t let it go, even after missing one start late in the year and Adams not looking terrible.
Like Adams, Beachum had his struggles when first taking over the left tackle position, as he averaged about a sack per start for the first five weeks. He settled down as the season progressed and the Steelers used more no huddle and rhythmic passing, and he only gave up one sack in his last six games.
While the changes in offensive philosophy did much to help the entire offensive line in their pass protection, it was clear that Beachum’s progression went beyond simply having less time to mess up. His coordination improved, his footwork became more decisive and confident, and he built on each performance.
That same cannot be said for his run-blocking ability, on the other hand, which is still by and large ‘below the line’, and I honestly can’t say I’m overly confident that we will see much improvement in that aspect of his game. But when it comes to left tackle, pass protection must be valued over other concerns.
Despite having an awkward body type and a disarmingly non-threatening demeanor, Beachum is a player with a chip on his shoulder and the drive and dedication it takes to succeed. He’s been on a steady upward trajectory since he was drafted and has already surpassed any realistic organizational expectations. Can he prove that he can be a reliable starting left tackle? The back half of the 2013 season was a good start, but the real test begins this year.
Previous Articles In This Series
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – QB Ben Roethlisberger
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Antonio Brown
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Emmanuel Sanders
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – TE Heath Miller
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – T Marcus Gilbert
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – G David DeCastro
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – G Ramon Foster