The Steelers don’t usually draft for need. Instead, they take the best player available. But in this particular instance, the best player available also happened to fill their greatest need.
I wrote here that the Steelers top need in this year’s draft was a guard. I said that it was more important than drafting a nose tackle, inside linebacker, or any other position. So you can imagine how happy I was to see David DeCastro, the unanimous pick as the top interior lineman in this year’s draft, still sitting there when the 24th pick came up?
DeCastro was the starting right guard for Stanford University. He’s 6’5″, 316 lbs., and was best known for keeping this year’s #1 pick Andrew Luck’s jersey clean. Now he’ll get the opportunity to do the same thing for Ben Roethlisberger.
DeCastro was a three year starter for Stanford after being redshirted his freshman year. He started every game during his 3-year college career, so there are no durability issues with DeCastro. He was voted 1st team All-American, and was a finalist for the Outland Trophy (but lost to Alabama’s Barrett Jones) following his junior season. He bypassed his senior season to enter the draft.
Most experts predicted that DeCastro would be selected within the top 15 spots in the draft. The Steelers barely considered him, since they were certain that there was no way that he would be available to them at #24.
“We really didn’t think David would be there at 24 quite honestly,” said Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert. “We valued him that high. We said there were a few special players in this draft, and he was one of them.”
DeCastro is viewed as one of the best guards to come along in the past decade. What makes him unique is that he’s a hybrid. Offensive guards typically fall into one of two camps. There are the “road graders”, who are big burly guys who excel primarily in run blocking (think Chris Kemoeatu). And then there are the finesse guys who aren’t as big and strong as the road graders, but who are better at pass blocking and getting out on pulls and traps (think Alan Faneca). But DeCastro is a combination of the two. He may be the best run blocker in the draft. But he’s also the best at pulling and trapping. That’s why he’s often compared to legendary guard Steve Hutchinson.
“When you watch this team (Stanford) run the football, 80 percent of the time David DeCastro was leading the way,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
Stanford played a pro style offense, so DeCastro should be well prepared for the NFL. While he played right guard exclusively at Stanford, the Steelers think that he could play either left or right guard.
The Steelers selected offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert in the 2nd round last year, and they took center Maurkice Pouncey in the 1st round the year before. So DeCastro is a continuation of the team’s concerted effort to upgrade their offensive line.
I never thought I’d be so happy to see the Steelers draft a guard. But then again, I didn’t think David DeCastro would be available at pick #24.