Enter David DeCastro -
Did you notice how quickly Pittsburgh turned in its pick to the commissioner last Thursday? Roger Goodell barely left the stage. David DeCastro was not supposed to be available at #24. He was the best offensive guard in the draft by everyone's account. When he started to fall, Kevin Colbert was tempted to trade up for him. Colbert is very crafty with that move. He doesn't like selling the farm to move up in a draft, but if his guy starts to fall a bit, he will meet in the middle and split the difference. He did that with Holmes in 2006 and Polamalu in 2003.
Colbert had his finger on the trigger and was ready to meet DeCastro halfway also. The reason he didn't, I am guessing here, is that Riley Reiff was falling alongside DeCastro. I think the Steelers would have gladly taken Reiff at #24, though perhaps with a little less euphoria. Their second tackle (Willie Colon) has not played football in two years and was not a tackle that many people were thrilled with when he was healthy. Anywho, as long as Reiff and DeCastro were still on the board, Colbert knew that until one of them was drafted, he had an insurance policy with the other. He could wait until one was selected before he pulled the trigger to move up to get the other. As it turned out, he never had to pull that trigger. Reiff stayed on the board all the way until the Lions picked at #23. Colbert knew he'd get one of them.
You don't need me to avail the virtues of David Decastro. I'm sure this site has laid out all those elements quite extensively over the last four days. Scout's Inc. gave him a 93 rating. They also grade eight different aspects of an offensive lineman. DeCastro scored "exceptional" in six of the eight categories and "above average in his worst two categories. That's about as good as it gets. The man is ready to play guard, right or left, this year. He will start off in the OTAs and in training camp as a back-up. All pledges do. But rest assured come September 9th Decastro will spend his first NFL game starting in prime time in the Mile High City. The guy is no-nonsense, brings his lunchbox to work every day and has the smarts to be a quality student at Stanford.
DeCastro is a pure guard. The Steelers love position flexibility, but versatility is more important with reserves who can fill in at multiple positions. With starters, there's no downside to having a guy who does one thing and does it to perfection. DeCastro's blocking graded at 96.88, as close to perfection as you can get. He allowed no sacks in his senior year, which is perfection. He manhandled Washington nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu, which of course is both good news and bad news.
I'll get to Mike Adams in Part III of this series, but it must be noted that the addition of DeCastro and Adams now forces a decision on Willie Colon. Maybe the Steelers played him at tackle because he could play it better than any other tackle on the roster. Maybe with Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams they will finally move Colon inside. Adams is a natural left tackle (though admittedly a rookie) and Gilbert is more comfortable on the right side. If Colon's experience can make him a quick study at left guard, DeCastro can stay at right guard, or vice versa if that works better. In any case, the line of Adams, Colon, Pouncey, DeCastro and Gilbert, if they play together and stay together, can be the best line the Steelers have had in a long time.
Enter Mike Adams...To be continued in Part III...