If I told you that the Pittsburgh Steelers used their top two picks on offensive linemen in 2012, and that, entering the 2020 season, they still have two linemen taken in that draft class in the NFL, you probably wouldn’t be surprised.
It gets a little more surprising when you’re reminded of the fact that they also addressed the offensive line in the seventh round that year—and that one of the two linemen from that class who is still in the league is in fact that seventh-round lineman: Kelvin Beachum.
While he’s no longer in Pittsburgh, he went on to have a successful post-Steelers career, primarily with the New York Jets, starting 45 games over the past three seasons. He played for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016 as well.
Beachum’s contract expired after the 2019 season, and he remained unsigned until Friday, the Arizona Cardinals announcing that they had agreed to a deal with the veteran. He joins Marcus Gilbert, whom the Steelers traded to the Cardinals last year. additionally, their offensive line coach is Sean Kugler, who held the same position in Pittsburgh in 2012, his rookie season.
The 2012 NFL Draft marked the Steelers’ most concerted efforts in revamping and rebuilding the offensive line, following the selection of center Maurkice Pouncey in the first round in 2010 and tackle Marcus Gilbert in the second round a year later.
Pittsburgh used its first-round pick in 2012 on David DeCastro, the guard out of Stanford, who is now the team’s best lineman and is a multiple-time first-team All-Pro. In the second round, they drafted big tackle Mike Adams out of Ohio State, though he proved to be a disappointment even after an encouraging rookie season.
Beachum, however, stuck, and he ended up becoming their starting left tackle, even though they originally envisioned him as a guard—and he also had an awful rookie preseason, with many observers believing that he would not make the roster.
But he did, and through injuries, with Gilbert and then Adams going down, he ended up starting the last several games at right tackle. By 2013, he was rotating in and out of the lineup before an awful 0-4 start prompted lineup changes.
Beachum would remain the Steelers’ starting left tackle until he tore his ACL five games into the 2015, after which Alejandro Villanueva took his place. It’s reasonable to speculate that, had he not gotten injured, he would have continued to be the starter, and might still be on the team today, rather than signing elsewhere in free agency.
After spending the vast majority of his career as a starter, however, the Cardinals expect to continue with D.J. Humphries as their starting left tackle, whom they recently signed to a contract extension. Gilbert and Justin Murray will battle for the right tackle position—it’s not clear if Beachum will eventually force his way into the conversation as well, along with third-round rookie Josh Jones.