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: 3 Years
Looking back on his rookie preseason, I could never have in my wildest imaginings pictures myself, three years later, writing up a season review for Kelvin Beachum in which I discuss him as an entrenched starter at left tackle. I don’t think I could add anything else that would more accurately express the progress that he has made since being drafted as a compensatory seventh-round draft pick in 2012.
At just 6’3” and a small animal over 300 pounds, Beachum certainly doesn’t fit the physical prototype of the blindside protector of a franchise quarterback—if anything, he’s built more like an interior player, which is where the Steelers initially talked about playing him—but he has shown over the past few seasons that he has the intelligence and determination to largely compensate for this deficiency.
Though he started 11 games at left tackle in 2013, it wasn’t the plan for him to be there at the beginning of the year. Mike Adams started the first four games there with the Steelers hoping he would emerge and take hold of the position for the next decade or so, but he only lasted a quarter of a season before he had to be yanked and substituted with an equally unproven player.
Since taking over the starting job, Beachum has settled down quite a lot, and become a strong player in pass protection, which, needless to say, is more valuable in a passing offense than is earth-moving run blocking.
Beachum gave up seven or so sacks last season—three of them came against the Buccaneers—but the sacks, proportionally, made up a high percentage of his total pressure. In other words, he didn’t give up that much pressure, but when he did, it often ended in sacks, which does somewhat skew the perception of his overall performance.
He did get penalized a number of times, particularly early in the season, but that is something that he self-corrected as the season progressed. And while he has never been, and perhaps never will be, a very good run blocker, he has shown that he can perform adequately in this area, particularly when on the move. Overall, he was probably the Steelers’ best lineman in 2014, and isn’t likely going anywhere in 2015.