Beams was selected by Collingwood with selection 29 in the 2008 AFL Draft. A versatile midfilelder who can defend and attack, Beams is a high possession winner who is balanced and composed when in close proximity to opponents. A Queensland representative in the 2008 NAB AFL Under-18 championships, Beams knocked back a deal to sign with future Gold Coast Football Club instead deciding to nominate for the 2008 AFL Draft. He was again linked to the new Queensland based club in 2009, but signed an extension to his contract to the end of the 2012 season.
Beams played three games in the NAB Cup kicking a goal in each game, including a super goal against Essendon. He made his AFL debut in round 2, when Dale Thomas was a late withdrawal from the team due to a virus.
Beams finished 4th in the NAB Rising Star 2009 after being nominated in Round 17. He won the Harry Collier Trophy in 2009 as Collingwood's best first year player.
Beams is having a breakout year in 2012. He has been averaging over 31 possessions a game, impressing in best-on-ground performances against Adelaide, West Coast and Sydney. His rise was most notably attributed to the long-term injury of star midfielder Luke Ball in round 3. Beams has led the entire AFL for handball receives, and is third in the competition for disposals. He was also in contention for the 2012 Brownlow Medal along with teammates Scott Pendlebury and Dane Swan. As a result of Beams breakout 2012 season, he was awarded the 2012 3AW Player of the Year award, ahead of Essendon's Jobe Watson, Gold Coast's Gary Ablett, and Hawthorn's Sam Mitchell.
To cap of a brilliant 2012 season which saw Beams become one of the games elite midfielders, he was selected in the 2012 All-Australian Team on a wing. Adding to this recognition, Beams finished the season winning the E.W. Copeland Trophy beating of 2011 winner Scott Pendlebury by 35 votes.