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.

Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals calls a play in the huddle against the Seattle Seahawks at...
Sam Graveline

Cardinals look to take advantage of primetime playoff opportunity vs. Rams

Playing on Monday night, all eyes will be on the Cardinals and the Rams as the division foes put a bow on Wild Card Weekend in the NFL. 
2 days ago
Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals drops back to pass during the NFL game against...
Kellan Olson

Arizona Cardinals’ 2021 meetings with Los Angeles Rams, by the numbers

A divisional matchup in the playoffs means we've got the healthiest sample size possible from the regular season.
6 days ago
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) reacts after wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (1) catches a...
Associated Press

Josh Allen tosses 5 touchdowns to lead Bills over Patriots

Josh Allen threw five touchdown passes to lead the Buffalo Bills to a Wild Card win over the division rival New England Patriots.
2 days ago
Cincinnati Bengals' Ja'Marr Chase (1) runs during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff footb...
Associated Press

Bengals hold off Raiders to win first playoff game in 31 years

Kicking off the NFL playoffs, the Bengals held on to beat the Raiders 26-19 to earn the franchise's first playoff win since 1991.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) is sacked by Los Angeles Rams defensive end Morgan F...
Alex Weiner

Rams defense keyed in on bottling up Cardinals QB Kyler Murray

Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said he expects to get Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray's best this week.
2 days ago
The Los Angeles Rams won't have either of their starting safeties in Monday's Wild Card round game ...
Alex Weiner

Rams down safeties Taylor Rapp, Fuller for Wild Card game vs. Cardinals

The Los Angeles Rams won't have either of their starting safeties in Monday's Wild Card round game against the Arizona Cardinals.
2 days ago
Cardinals OL Kelvin Beachum cracks ESPN’s underrated list