Let the prognosticating and analysis begin, as if it hasn’t already. We are all still buzzing at the how the draft weekend turned out for our Steelers and will be for some time, it’s just how we are. Every year we as fans start to try and figure out how the draft picks will pan out, if they’ll start, how long until they will so, were they a reach, etc.
1st and 2nd round draftees David DeCastro and Mike Adams are the answers to the prayers of the Steeler Nation; who’s been crying out for offensive line help for years. We’re all excited to see the team finally commit more than just 1 high draft pick on such an important position. Honestly they could have gone offensive line in all 3 rounds to start the draft and I’d have been happy. You can’t have everything though and I’m pretty darn excited about these two. So let’s see if we can figure where they’ll fit in and how quickly they’ll get on the field in 2012.
We’ll start with DeCastro in this article since he was the 1st round selection. In case you were curious just how excited Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin were when he fell to them; they said that he was one of the few players they were willing to trade up for and when he fell to them it was a no brainer to take him.
DeCastro played right guard for 3 straight years at Stanford and as far as the record books show he only gave up 1 official sack. During his press conference he was asked about that very stat and did concede that his QB, (1st round overall pick) Andrew Luck did bail him out a few times. Still though it’s an impressive stat nonetheless.
That are many things to be impressed about with this kid, not the least of which is of course his size, 6’5″ 316 lbs. He spent a good deal of time blocking out in space at Stanford so he’s got quick feet and able to diagnose his blocking assignment quickly, even on the run. The Steelers love to pull their Guards on running plays and DeCastro excels at that. He’s also strong and powerful, able to take on his man and hold the block for as long as he needs too, that’s assuming that he hasn’t already pancaked him first.
I also love his attitude, he’s a tough, mean guy who plays with a serious chip on his shoulder. He plays smart though and doesn’t allow his temper to cause problems. The last thing you need is a tough guy who continuously get personal fouls for diving into piles of players or pushing after the play is over. We’ve had enough of that with a certain,now former Steelers lineman.
There’s a reason he was the #1 rated guard in the draft this year and why scouts around the league were raving ab out him. So why not start him to open the 2012 season? The answer is…there’s no reason not too. If you look at the current guards on the Steelers roster, there’s no one that is head and shoulders better than DeCastro is now as a rookie. Chris Kemoeatu is gone, Doug Legursky is the primary backup to Maurkice Pouncey, and Trai Essex is also a utility lineman. None of those players are legitimate starters but are quality backups, which is very important to have. Current right guard, Ramon Foster is technically a Tackle but has been converted to guard and has played pretty darn well. He benefited from Flozell Adams at right tackle in 2010, along with a healthy Pouncey at Center. He struggled a bit more in 2011 but still had a solid year considering everyone around him was going down with injuries every week. He may still end up playing on the right side but either way he’s the only decent guard on the roster besides DeCastro now.
So if the rookie does start, do the Steelers keep him at his familiar position on the right (moving Foster to the left side) or stick “DeStroyo” ( his new nickname coined by an SA member) on the left side and leave Foster at his normal position? Honestly, I don’t think it really matters and judging by the demeanor and attitude of DeCastro, he won’t mind playing either position. There will be a learning curve no matter what just because he’s in the NFL now but his talent, football knowledge, and work ethic will help tremendously. Sure he’ll have his growing pains like any other rookie and I’m sure training camp this summer will be a mind blowing experience for him, but I for one think he is a day 1 starter for two reasons. First, he’s just that good of a prospect that you can live with the on the job training because you know he’ll be able to handle it. Two, there’s no one else that is better than he is right now on the team.
Whether or not Steelers offensive line coach Sean Kugler agrees with me is another story, but I’ll go out on a limb here and say that he’s the man, on either side, to start the year.
Just for good measure, here’s his draft day announcement and analysis by NFL Networks Mike Mayock