Cardinals OL Kelvin Beachum cracks ESPN’s underrated list

Aug 28, 2021, 11:46 AM
Offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum #68 of the Arizona Cardinals during the game against the Washington...
Offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum #68 of the Arizona Cardinals during the game against the Washington Football Team at State Farm Stadium on September 20, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Washington Football Team 30-15. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals have just one question to answer at right guard in terms of shoring up the starting offensive line in 2021.

They also have one of the most underrated players in the league in right tackle Kelvin Beachum, according to ESPN’s Seth Walder and Matt Bowen.

Walder compiled 10 players, both overrated and underrated, across the NFL based solely on advanced statistics gathered. Bowen came at it from a different angle, taking a look at said players’ game film.

Especially for what the lineman makes, Walder has Beachum firmly in the underrated discussion.

Beachum has finished in the top 16 in pass block win rate in each of the past three seasons — and across two teams (Jets and Cardinals). His run blocking was below average in 2018 and 2019, but he flew all the way up to No. 2 in run block win rate last season. Even if the run blocking last year were a fluke, a reliable pass-blocking tackle is awfully valuable. And yet, Beachum received just a two-year, $4 million contract from the Cardinals.

Beachum joined Arizona in 2020 after spending the previous three seasons with the New York Jets. Arizona quickly slotted Beachum in as the team’s starting right tackle, taking over for Justin Murray, who started at the position in 2019.

Since then, the Cardinals offensive line has taken a step forward with additions like Beachum in the mix. After allowing 48 sacks in 2019, the line cut that number down significantly to 27 last season. The running game also benefitted from the line’s improvement, with former starting running back Kenyan Drake nearly topping 1,000 yards last season and quarterback Kyler Murray chipping in more than 800 yards. The duo combined for 21 rushing scores.

Per Pro Football Focus, Beachum came in 46th among NFL tackles last season with a grade of 69. His pass-blocking grade of 76.8 came in at 29th, while he sported a 59 in run-blocking.

Bowen’s takeaway from Beachum’s tape shows a correlation with PFF’s ranking:

Beachum is a mid-tier starter at the offensive tackle position, who, as you noted here, does give you a boost in pass protection. While he can be a “waist bender,” Beachum displays the athletic traits to mirror and redirect in space, which are necessary tools when facing today’s NFL edge rushers.

But in terms of the run blocking, I have to question that a little bit. You say the metrics view Beachum as a plus run-blocker, but that doesn’t mesh consistently with the tape.

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