Steelers: Props to Pro Bowler David DeCastro


Steelers guard David DeCastro got to his first pro bowl this year

So dues have been paid and time has been put in and David DeCastro has gotten to his first pro bowl. With all this uncertainty hovering over the Steelers right now let’s take a moment to think about something we can be sure of. The thing I’m referring to is of course David DeCastro becoming an excellent NFL guard.

First, let’s go back in time a bit and then we’ll come back to the future. Boom.

DeCastro was drafted  with the 24th pick overall in 2012 after an All-America season and his second all PAC-10. DeCastro was thought by most to be the top guard in the draft. He had size and athleticism. DeCastro also presumably had a good head on his shoulders having attended Stanford.

His first year was a little disappointing, but not necessarily because of DeCastro. In his third game against the Bills teammate Marcus Gilbert fell on DeCastro’s leg. DeCastro was out most of the season with an ACL and MCL injury.

Although he returned in late November his snaps 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. After an unfortunate start when he crashed into Maurkice Pouncey and knocking him out for the season (yes, that’s a thing Steelers offensive linemen do to eachother) things started to come together. He was probably the bright spot on the line that year, which if you remember 2013 isn’t saying much.

2014 was his breakout year. Not coincidentally it was the offense’s in general, and Le’Veon Bell specifically. His rookie year was barely there. Then 2013 showed potential. But in 2014 DeCastro showed what he was capable of. 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 and offense in general is pretty evident.

This offseason the Steelers wisely picked up the extension on DeCastro’s rookie contract for a 5th year. It’s not unlikely Kevin Colbert saw what DeCastro was doing and kept him around for at least another year. Plus, he’s doing it at pre pro bowl prices too. Always the bargain hunter that Colbert.

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But it’s been fun to watch DeCastro progress through the years. He always had the raw skills. He just needed to tighten the screws a little bit. He had the quickness, strong technique, awareness, and ability to move. Early on there was just the occasional mental error or technique issue.

Mike Munchak no doubt had some influence on getting DeCastro to his potential. DeCastro certainly speaks highly of Munchak. Munchak also had some nice things to say about DeCastro.

Dave Bryan of Steelers Depot quoted DeCastro as saying, “I’ve had a lot of great offensive line coaches. Coach Munchak, I think his resume speaks for itself, in terms of what he’s done as a player and as a coach. He makes the games very simple. It’s hard to explain unless you’re in the meeting room and on the field with him, everything’s very simple. He’s very detailed. When he speaks, you listen.”

Per Daniel Sager of Steelers Wire, Munchak said, “There’s nothing David can’t do. He’s the whole package.”

His importance to the team has never been more evident than this year and the team has never been more grateful to have him. We all know how great the Steelers run game and offense can be. Here’s the thing though. All Pro center Maurkice Pouncey goes down for the season.

And the offensive line keeps going. Both Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams are having success. Then, Le’Veon Bell goes out for the season. Not good. But the run game keeps going. As good as Bell is, another All Pro, the run game hardly missed a step when Bell was out.

And then Beachum goes out for the season. Guess what happened next? Run game, still good. Offense, still good. And let’s not forget Martavis Bryant missed four games and Roethlisberger a handful. Also, Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth missed some.

Anyway, point is, DeCastro was still there, chugging away, which is a big reason why as rough a time as the Steelers have had they’ve been able to get this far.

What DeCastro brings to the table is a few things. The offensive line is interesting because there are not really any stats to look at. We can look at how good the offense does, and the sacks they give up, tackles for loss, but those don’t really sum it up for an individual.

In the pass game DeCastro has good balance, good hands, and stays low with good feet. His awareness is also on point and he’s able to pick up stunts and blitzes well. In the run game he can move them inside but it’s when he’s out in space that he really stands out. His ability to break down and take on a linebacker or defensive back in the open field speaks to his athleticism but again to his awareness as well.

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It’s all come full circle for the guy. Expect the Steelers to work on a long term contract this offseason. DeCastro still has plenty of years left and he’s just getting into his prime. Here’s hoping we see number 66 in the black and gold plowing paths for years to come.