The Pittsburgh Steelers took highly rated guard David DeCastro out of Stanford with the 24th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. DeCastro was the number one rated guard in the draft and no one thought that he would drop that far to the Steelers. With that pick and the selection of center Maurkice Pouncey in 2010, the Steelers took an offensive lineman in the first round in two of the past three years. Before taking Pouncey, the last time the Steelers had taken an offensive lineman in the first round was Kendall Simmons in 2002.
When the Steelers selected DeCastro, most thought the team got a steal and the offensive line was supposed to be immediately upgraded by his presence. Unfortunately, DeCastro suffered a knee injury in the Preseason and was put on injured reserve but designated to return. The new injured reserve rule allowed DeCastro to return during the season and he got his first start as a pro against the Dallas Cowboys in week 15. Although DeCastro was inconsistent when he finally got the chance to play in the team’s last three games, the future is still bright for him on the Steelers offensive line.
As of right now, the Steelers offensive line could be in line for more major changes this offseason with LT Max Starks and swing man Ramon Foster as unrestricted free agents. If the season started today the starting offensive line would be LT Marcus Gilbert, LG Willie Colon, C Maurkice Pouncey, RG David DeCastro, and RT Mike Adams.
I’ve already chronicled DeCastro’s injury problems in his rookie year and Gilbert, Colon and Adams all finished the season on injured reserve. With all Starks and Foster possibly gone in free agency and seemingly the rest of the line coming off of injury; there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Steelers offensive line going into the 2013 season.
That is why I believe the Steelers should seriously consider taking an offensive lineman in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft.
One guy in particular that I feel could be available when the Steelers pick in the first round is Alabama guard Chance Warmack. Warmack is considered the best interior lineman in the draft and like DeCastro, would be expected to start day one for the Steelers. A lot of people would disagree with taking the same position in the draft in back to back years however, I think in this situation it would work. The Steelers offensive line has struggled to open up holes in the run game for years now and although they were better in pass protection this season, they can still be vastly improved.
Other options on the offensive line would be OT Eric Fisher from Central Michigan, G Jonathan Cooper from North Carolina, and OT Taylor Lewan from Michigan. Whether or not the Steelers decided to go with a guard or tackle, I feel like solidifying the offensive line is never a bad idea.
If the Steelers do not take an offensive lineman in the first round I will not be surprised because there are a lot of great defensive prospects in this draft. I just feel it was help the Steelers offense immensely to really go out and improve the line.