You may not have realized it - or if you've seen Kelvin Beachum standing next to Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, you have - the Steelers starting left tackle isn't exactly a prototype.
As Tribune Review reporter Mark Kaboly wrote in a feature posted Friday, Beachum, at 6-foot-3, is the shortest starting left tackle in the NFL. At 303 pounds, he's the lightest starting left tackle in the NFL. Each of these measurements is smaller than Pouncey's, even though the Steelers' center is noticeably slimmed down from where he was at the start of last season.
Beachum also is the lowest-drafted starting left tackle in the NFL - one of the marquee positions on the field. The Steelers will start two first-rounders on the offensive line - Pouncey and right guard David DeCastro. They will start a second-rounder at right tackle, Marcus Gilbert. Left guard Ramon Foster wasn't drafted and Beachum brackets out this diverse group which shares only relative youth as a common trait.
These other four all went to big colleges as well (DeCastro from Stanford and the other three from the SEC: Foster from Tennessee and both Pouncey and Gilbert from Florida). Does that make Beachum the odd man out?
Yes it does, but he's putting some distance between himself and that misnomer.
He works tirelessly on his technique before and after practice. He isn't afraid to try different training techniques if they will help (he recently took up pilates and yoga). Beachum also has worked with former Steelers lineman Tunch Ilkin, who was a 6-3, 260-pound left tackle, on his handwork.
The hands-on approach (literally) with Tunch is just one part of it. He studies film relentlessly, watching Hall of Fame tackles Walter Jones and Willie Roaf, and watching current star tackles Jason Peters of the Eagles, Joe Thomas of the Browns and Tyron Smith of the Cowboys.
Those players did not and do not have the perceived size disadvantage Beachum has, but that doesn't matter to him.
"It doesn't matter because, at the end of the day, it is about one man beating another man's behind," Beachum said. "It doesn't matter how big or small you are, you still have to play football at the end of the day."
That's the attitude of the guy who's clearly way too small to play offensive tackle but, just as clearly, is the Steelers' best option at the position.