Yesterday, CBSSports.com released their lists of the top 10 interior and exterior linemen. According to author Tyler Sullivan, the rankings were based on statistics from Pro Football Focus along with age, durability, the overall performance of the player's offensive line, and the style and play of the quarterback they were responsible for protecting. Unfortunately, Alejandro Villanueva's 2019 season was not strong enough to earn him a spot on the list of offensive tackles, but the Steelers were nicely featured on the list of interior linemen. David DeCastro took the number 6 spot while Maurkice Pouncey was listed as one of three honorable mentions.
It was a bit of a surprise when DeCastro's name did not show up on Pete Prisco's (of CBS Sports) top 100 players of 2020. This list gave him the attention he deserves after starting all 16 games last season and keeping his Pro Bowl streak going for the fifth straight year. Here's what Sullivan had to say about the veteran offensive guard:
Even as he enters his ninth season in the league, David DeCastro is still a force on the right side of Pittsburgh’s offensive line. The guard suited up in all 16 of the Steelers’ regular-season games in 2019 and had perfect attendance, playing in all 995 of the offensive snaps. He earned his fifth-straight trip to the Pro Bowl last year after putting together another season of elite play in both pass protection and in the running game. According to PFF’s grading system, DeCastro is only one of four guards (Zack Martin, Brandon Brooks, and Marshal Yanda) who have top 10 grades in both pass-blocking and run-blocking since 2016. As a unit, Pittsburgh ranked just outside the top 10 in adjusted sack rate, but the entire offense should be much more efficient in 2020 with Ben Roethlisberger back under center.
The only guards who were ranked above DeCastro were Washington's Brandon Scherff, New England's Joe Thuney, Dallas's Zack Martin, and Indianapolis's Quenton Nelson. When you consider age was taken into account on this list, it makes sense that DeCastro, the oldest of the group, would come in slightly lower on the list. Nevertheless, the expectations are high for DeCastro to continue to dominate on the offensive line in 2020.
At age 30, it is nice to see Pouncey continue to get recognition. Only three centers ranked above him: Rodney Hudson (10), Ryan Jensen (7), and Jason Kelce (3). Despite making the Pro Bowl for the fourth straight season and allowing 0 sacks, 2019 was a bit of a down year for Pouncey. He started just 13 games due to injuries and a suspension, and received a career low 51.5 grade from Pro Football Focus.
In an interview in which he explained his list, Sullivan stated that as he has grown older, Pouncey’s play has begun to deteriorate. Still, he noted the center has been a star throughout his career and deserves recognition among the NFL’s best linemen. Hopefully Pouncey will return to All-Pro form in 2020 and take back a spot in the top ten.
In terms of other AFC north players to get recognized, Baltimore's Ronnie Stanley took the number two spot for offensive tackles. In addition, two of Cleveland's offensive lineman got recognized, with Joel Bitonio landing at the number nine position for interior linemen and Jack Conklin earning an honorable mention.
Do you agree with CBS Sports's rankings? Let us know in the comments.
To view the article from CBS Sports, click HERE.