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Steelers left tackle Beachum uses film study, extra work to overcome lack of size

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Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
The Steelers' Kelvin Beachum elevated from a seventh-round pick to a starting left tackle.

Late rounds

There are 19 first-round picks starting at left tackle in the NFL, and just five were drafted in the seventh round or later.

Player, team Rd./pick

King Dunlap, Chargers 7/230

Kelvin Beachum, Steelers 7/248

Donald Penn, Raiders UDFA

Jason Peters, Eagles UDFA

Byron Bell, Panthers UDFA

source: NFL.com

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Hall of Famers Walter Jones and Willie Roaf, to name two, are Kelvin Beachum's favorites to study.

Even current left tackles, such as Jason Peters, Tyron Smith and Sunday's counterpart, Joe Thomas, have been a part of Beachum's video collection over the past year.

“You never stop studying the greats,” Beachum said.

Especially when you don't fit the mold of the greats, and Beachum doesn't come close to filling that NFL left-tackle model.

Consider this:

• Beachum is the shortest starting left tackle in the league at 6-foot-3 (New England's Nate Solder is 6-8).

• He is the lightest left tackle at 303 pounds (Buffalo's Cordy Glenn is 343 pounds).

• No current starting left tackle was drafted lower than Beachum, who was the 248th pick in the 2012 draft. There are 19 starting left tackles that were taken in the first round. Three others went in the second round.

Still, Beachum has found a way to buck the odds and push aside former second-round pick Mike Adams (who is 4 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier) and claim the Steelers left-tackle spot.

Beachum will make his first opening-day start Sunday against the Browns and won't think about being the smallest left tackle in the NFL.

“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.”

Beachum has to work to ensure his size isn't an issue.

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.

Most importantly, Beachum watches an unusual amount of film.

“He knows he has to be on top of that stuff,” guard Ramon Foster said. “With his size, a lot of teams try to take advantage of him.”

Case in point was Thursday when Beachum arrived early to the practice facility to watch last year's Buffalo game.

Buffalo's defensive coordinator last year was Mike Pettine, the current Browns coach. Also, Cleveland defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil was the linebackers coach on that team.

“You look for how they might attack you,” Beachum said. “It kind of makes your job easier when you know what's coming before it's coming.”

Beachum started 12 games at left tackle last year. He allowed six sacks and 18 quarterback hurries and stabilized the offensive line down the stretch.

“He just has a bigger heart,” tackle Marcus Gilbert said. “He showed that to play left tackle in this league, it doesn't matter about size.”

What does matter to Beachum is how he plays Sunday.

“It is another step that I have taken, but there are a lot of more steps that need to be taken,” Beachum said. “I am enjoying the process right now.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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