Why Steelers Had to Pick Up Fifth Year on David DeCastro


The Pittsburgh Steelers have elected to pick up the 5th year option on offensive guard David DeCastro‘s contract according to NFL.com’s Albert Breer. Since being drafted DeCastro has shown steady improvement in each season and turned out to be one of the top guards in pro football and key piece to the line’s resurgence last year.

Out with the old and in with the new. A lot has been said about Troy Polamalu‘s recent retirement. Go ahead and google Steelers and see what you find. This is only right. The man is a legend. One of the best to ever play his position. That’s not the only thing happening in Steeler Nation though. While a previous leader and great player has moved on, we’ll be keeping a young leader and great player around a little longer.

Not to say DeCastro, or anyone for that matter, compares to Troy but as we reflect on how great it was to be a Steelers fan during Troy’s time let’s also make a little time to look forward to the future.

DeCastro was drafted in 2012 with the 24th pick overall after an All-America season and his second all PAC-10. Many regarded that as a steal because DeCastro was thought by most to be the top guard in the draft. He had size, athleticism, and a bit of a nasty streak. DeCastro also had a good head on his shoulders having attended Standford.

His first year was a bit disappointing. In his third game against the Buffalo Bills teammate Marcus Gilbert fell on DeCastro’s leg. DeCastro injured his ACL and MCL. He would be out much of the season. Although he returned in late November his time and ability were still limited. He showed flashes, but half his season was lost to injury and the other bit he still looked like a rookie, albeit a big talented rookie.

People expected big things from the young guard in his second season. It didn’t kick off quite the way we hoped though. He crashed into the back of Maurkice Pouncey and Pouncey was out for the season. Things at least started to come together after that. He went on to be probably the loan bright spot on the line that year, which if you remember the line in 2013 isn’t saying much.

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Last year was his real break out. 2012 barely happened. Then he went from being spoken of as “This kid is going to be good” in 2013 to “People don’t realize how good this kid is” in 2014. Last year he ranked as the 18th best guard in the NFL under Pro Football Focus’s mysterious grades.

DeCastro and the Steelers O-Line as a whole both started an upward trajectory midway through 2013 that continued into a 2014 season that saw the offense dominate teams. The correlation between DeCastro’s performance and the line as a whole is no coincidence.

He is a key piece to the offensive line. The Steelers signature off tackle run play last year, with guard and tight end pulling, might as well be called DeCastro. The play went left nearly every time it was ran. And it was successful nearly every time as well. Everyone knew it was coming, and they just couldn’t stop it.

He developed into a well-rounded player skilled at pass and run blocking. He really shined in space however. When he stays along the line he and Pouncey, along with Foster, form a tough wall to penetrate. Along with his right hand man Pouncey, DeCastro also has a talent for getting to the second level.

The young guard has not peaked by any means. He was that good in what was essentially his second year, after having multiple o-line coaches and schemes. Now with Mike Munchak running the show and molding this already formidable ball of clay the sky really is the limit for DeCastro and perhaps with him the Steelers offensive line as a whole.

I would be comfortable betting a decent amount of money that DeCastro will make at least one pro bowl in the next three years. He’s got talent, drive, smarts, and now health, a great coach, and a solid group around him. That kind of bet is no risk at all. Like the 5th year option itself, it’s common sense.

Next: Troy Polamalu Retires: What Else to Say

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