Some Pittsburgh Steelers fans might forget about the 2012 NFL Draft when a guard from Stanford named David DeCastro, whom EVERYONE thought would be off the board prior to Pittsburgh’s selection, fell into the lap of the Steelers.
The team wasted little time pulling the trigger, and what a player DeCastro has become. He’s a road-grader in the running game, and he’s improved tremendously in pass protection. He wears No. 66, and rightfully so after Alan Faneca donned the same digits every game day for the Black-and-gold.
While DeCastro certainly gets credit for his play, he also continues to improve. Hard to believe, right? That’s exactly what Mike Munchak believes about DeCastro as he continues to put in the work during this 2017 regular season.
Read more about DeCastro below, as we check in on the Black-and-gold news outside the walls of BTSC.
The most grounded member of the Steelers offensive line loves to travel.
David DeCastro, whose family roots are centered in South Africa, has made several trips to his parents' homeland, and he took his wife on a safari there three years ago.
Earlier this year, it was a trip to New Zealand and Australia for David and Bonnie DeCastro, one final excursion before the birth of their daughter, Brooke, in October.
As much as DeCastro likes to spend his off-seasons traveling the world, he can be found in the same spot every Sunday during the fall and winter: anchoring the right guard position for the Steelers.
When the 6-foot-5, 315-pound veteran suited up last Sunday against the Detroit Lions, DeCastro made his 64th consecutive NFL start, the equivalent of four seasons. Among active players at the position, DeCastro owns the second-longest streak of consecutive games played.
It's not just the number of games that’s noteworthy. It's the snaps. Since his streak started in Week 10 of the 2013 season, DeCastro has missed just two. Heading into the Steelers' game next Sunday in Indianapolis, DeCastro has played 4,345 of a possible 4,347 offensive snaps.
DeCastro also brings quality along with his quantity. Pro Football Focus recently ranked DeCastro as the best run-blocking guard in the NFL, and he's likely on his way to a third consecutive appearance on the Pro Bowl and All-Pro lists.
“He's getting better every year,” offensive line coach Mike Munchak said. “He enjoys what he does. He enjoys the game, and he's very consistent in everything he does. There's nothing he can't do. He's good at everything.”
Especially staying healthy. Among a team full of Steelers, DeCastro is an ironman.
Only left tackle Alejandro Villanueva has anything resembling a modest run of consecutive starts among the other Steelers linemen. He has started 34 games in a row since moving into the lineup two years ago.
Center Maurkice Pouncey has missed all of one season and virtually every snap of another. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert missed seven games over the previous three seasons and has sat out five more in 2017. Ramon Foster has started a full 16-game slate just twice in nine NFL seasons.
“I love playing with Dave,” Foster said. “I know he's going to be consistent. I know I don't have to worry about him mentally or physically. I know he's going to do his job. I know he's not going to be late. He's going to be where you want him to be. You know he's going to block who you want him to block, and you know he's going to go a little bit extra.
“That's what you expect from David DeCastro. That's one of the biggest compliments a guy can ever get: You don't have to worry about him.”
An Associated Press panel consisting of Hall of Fame receiver James Lofton and 10 AP football writers ranked the Steelers' offensive line as the NFL's second best in results released Friday.
“The underappreciated group allows the Steelers' Killer Bs to work their magic,” AP writer and voter Simmi Buttar said.
The Steelers came in second with one first-place vote and 68 points out of a possible 110.
No team has invested more draft capital in the offensive line the past few years than the Dallas Cowboys, and the investment in the trenches paid off in a major way.
Their offensive line led by former first-round picks and 2016 All-Pros Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick was voted the top line. Dallas received the most first-place votes with four from the 11-person panel, and 94 points.
“They do a fantastic job every week, not only as run blockers but as pass protectors,” coach Jason Garrett said. “They're the engine behind our offense. They play the game the right way. They prepare to play the game the right way. And we feed off of them. Regardless of who's playing quarterback for us, who's playing running back, tight end or receiver, those guys make their jobs better. We have a lot of confidence in them.”
“They've settled in nicely after a slow start that was mainly due to inserting two new starters,” said Rob Maaddi, who is based on Philadelphia. “They have three studs and now we'll possibly have to see if they can open holes for non-elite backs.”
The Los Angeles Rams came in fifth with 55 points following the key offseason additions of left tackle Andrew Whitworth and center John Sullivan, who have played a big role in the strong seasons by quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley.
The rest of the top 10 featured New Orleans, Oakland, Kansas City, Jacksonville and New England.
During the past four seasons, the Steelers have posted a 25-7 record in the second half of the season.
That’s one of the big reasons the team feels so good about its 6-2 start to this season. For a team that has shown itself capable of getting better as the season goes on in recent years, a quick start – including winning its past three – makes this season feel as if the Steelers are playing with house money the rest of the year.
We know that we can get on a roll,” said defensive end Stephon Tuitt.
“We’re 6-2 going into the bye week,” added nose tackle Javon Hargrave. “We’re sitting pretty good as a team. But we’ve got a lot to get better moving on.”
Where can that improvement come from?