While the Pittsburgh Steelers may have gained some tangible evidence of improvement, improving their win total by three games and hosting a playoff game as a division champion for the first time in four seasons, there is no doubt that the team is far from a finished product.
No team, of course, is a finished product in the offseason. Every team loses players to free agency and retirement, and replaces them through the same free agency process, as well as the draft.
With all of the change that occurs during the offseason, it’s often difficult to predict how a particular team might fare. They may wind up holding the Lombardi trophy or the first overall draft pick when all is said and done.
In order to gain a better feel for not only the issues facing the team this year, but how those issues might play out, it’s useful to take the devil’s advocate approach. This is the pessimistic side of the coin.
Question: How would Kelvin Beachum translate moving from tackle to guard?
Once again, as a prelude to this conversation, the discussion of the idea of moving Kelvin Beachum inside to guard does not reflect a personal endorsement of the idea, nor is it a suggestion and indication that it would or will ever happen.
However, it is a topic that has been widely discussed, and with some holding the belief that, depending on the way the draft breaks, a tackle may present himself as the best value when the Steelers pick in the first round, it seems as though it’s an idea that is at least worth kicking around.
Of course, Beachum grew up playing left tackle, and now has 27 professional starts there in his first three seasons, but he wouldn’t be the first player in history to change positions in the NFL. Many college tackles are kicked inside due to their size, which is very likely what the Steelers were originally thinking.
As a rookie, he played both tackle and guard in the preseason, but after the team lost two right tackles during the season, he was forced to finish off the year at right tackle. In 2013, he was flexed out to be able to play all five positions, and played tight end and center in the opening game before taking over at left guard after the fourth game, and he has remained there since.
Over time, he has shown that, even if his height may be more advantageous in the interior, many of his finer qualities actually endear himself to the edge. His kick slide and hand placement, for example, would be wasted working in tight spaces. His mobility allows him to mirror off the edge and outsmart and outplay, rather than outmuscle, his opponent.
Additionally, he struggles against stronger edge rushers in the run game. This is an issue that would be exacerbated inside against larger defensive tackles. While he would no doubt commit himself to dedicating himself to being the best guard he can be, I can’t say that he would be more suited kicking inside.
The only reason this move should ever be made is if the team finds another left tackle, and they certainly don’t have one now. He might not be a Pro Bowler at the position, but he is a dependable blindside protector with an arrow still pointing up.