Grading David DeCastro's first start for the Pittsburgh Steelers in their Week 15 loss at Dallas.
David DeCastro had a very impressive first start for the Steelers. The thing that really jumps out at you is his pass protection. DeCastro seems to be a master of the quick set. With this technique, the guard immediately gets his hands on the defensive tackle and thus neutralizes him.
On the first pass play of the game for the Steelers, the Cowboys attempted a TE stunt. DeCastro was able to stone the stunt simply because he did not give up any penetration at all. And that is what is so impressive about Decastro. He gets his hands on the defensive tackle immediately, gets a great base with his feet, and does not give up any ground.
What's even more impressive about this is that offensive linemen are taught to give up some ground when getting bull rushed. They are taught to hop back and try to lower their center of gravity. This hopefully allows the offensive lineman to regain some power.
Amazingly, Decastro does not seem to need to do this. He keeps a tremendous base. Also, just as important, Decastro keeps his hands inside of the framework of his body. Decastro did give up one sack when Marcus Spears ripped inside of him. But, Ben Rothlisberger scrambled to his left, and more importantly, towards the line of scrimmage. This left Decastro in a bad position. With that being said, Decastro should have had a heavier inside foot.
It's hard to judge how Decastro did in the run game since the Steelers did not run the ball that much. However, he had a great block against the aforementioned Spears on Jonathan Dwyer's touchdown run. One on one with Spears, Decastro came off the ball with great pad level and drove Spears backwards. Dwyer followed right behind him for a touchdown. Hopefully, Mike Adams will be ready to play next week. If so, the Steelers will have a dominant right side when it comes to run blocking, with the ability to pull Decastro and run counters to the left.
Decastro plays with great balance and power, while maintaining fantastic pad level in the run game. We have not yet had a chance to see what everyone raved about Decastro before the draft: his ability to pull and/or block people in space. Decastro seems to be the real deal.