The Pittsburgh Steelers were fortunate to find a left tackle in the compensatory portion of the seventh round of the NFL Draft three years ago. At least, that appears to be what they’ve found in Kelvin Beachum, who has made 24 starts at the position over the last two seasons.
The team also drafted two other offensive tackles in the second round during the same timeframe in which Beachum was brought into the organization, but the underdog continues to fight for his position, and there appear to be no obvious signs of anything changing. He has solidified his role with sound technique, awareness, and agility, and we saw that, mostly in pass protection, against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Take this early first quarter pass from Ben Roethlisberger for example. Even though the play resulted in an incompletion, it shows off both some of Beachum’s strengths as well as the level of comfort that the quarterback has come to find in his blind side protector.
At the snap, Beachum immediately shot his arm out to his right to feel out pressure coming from Ramon Foster’s direction all while keeping his eyes and feet on the edge rusher, Wallace Gilberry. He mirrored and then anchored well, locking down and allowing Roethlisberger to throw comfortably.
Beachum fared considerably better on this play than did his counterpart, who was walked into the pocket. The left tackle did an excellent job on this occasion of keeping his feet moving in order to stay in front of the rusher, and stayed aggressive when he left his feet, knocking him to the ground as he did so.
We once again find the offense throwing for an incompletion, but it wasn’t due to pressure from the blind side. Beachum and Foster worked well together as the left tackle passed on one edge rusher to move down the line and pick up the far blitzer, showing strong line communication.
Late in the first half, on a 17-yard completion, we find Beachum struggling a bit against an aggressive bull rush. The edge rusher got the initial punch, but the left tackle kept him at arm’s length before resetting and holding him off long enough for Roethlisberger to get the pass off before he lost the leverage.
Late in the fourth quarter, on the play before Le’Veon Bell broke open the game with a 22 yard touchdown run to extend the visiting team’s lead to 42-21, Roethlisberger completed a third and four on a nine-yard pass to his favorite target toward the left sideline.
It was a quick pass, but Gilberry once again got the initial advantage on a bull rush, taking advantage of the tackle’s limited size. But he showed patience and was able to plant his foot and turn the rusher, eventually spilling him to the ground.