It will likely be several more weeks before we find out where Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Kelvin Beachum plays in 2016. Regardless of whether or not the team’s former seventh-round draft pick plays in Pittsburgh, one of his teammates took to Twitter on Friday to say he’s one of the best tackles in the league right now.
“Beachum is a top 5 LT just saying,” Steelers tackle Marcus Gilbert posted Friday afternoon on his social media account.
Beachum is a top 5 LT just saying…
— Marcus Gilbert (@MarcusGilbert88) January 29, 2016
Beachum, who had his 2015 season cut short due to a left knee injury that he suffered in Week 6, is currently scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year. As a whole, the SMU product played very well in the 36 regular season starts that he made at left tackle after taking over the job from Mike Adams five weeks into the 2013 season.
Despite his above-the-line play over the course of the last several seasons, Beachum is still knocked by many fans and analysts for his lack of ideal size as it relates to the left tackle position. While his size is indeed hard to overlook, the fact that he showed he can protect consistently well on the blindside is often overlooked as well.
Had Beachum stayed healthy all season, it’s obvious that he would likely be entering free agency with a robust market value. However, now that he has to show he can rebound from the knee injury that he suffered, his market value has more than likely decreased some.
Luckily for the Steelers, the player that took over for Beachum after he went down injured this past season, Alejandro Villanueva, played increasingly well as the year wore on. Because of that, and the fact that his contract over the course of the next two seasons will be very cheap, the Steelers might decide to stick with him as their starter on the left side. If that indeed winds up being the case, the Steelers will need to decide if Beachum can make the move to left guard and if so, they would likely have to decide if he would be a better option at that position than incumbent Ramon Foster, who will also be an unrestricted free agent in the coming weeks.
If I’m Beachum, I would want to play left tackle in the league moving forward as that’s where the larger payday is likely to be. By the time the 2016 NFL Draft rolls around, we’ll likely know whether or not other teams think Beachum is a top-5 left tackle in the league like Gilbert believes him to be.