End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.
Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.
Player: David DeCastro
Position: Right Guard
Experience: 3 Years
When the Steelers ran to the podium to draft David DeCastro in 2012, they likely had visions of Alan Faneca, a perennial Pro Bowler who would cement his presence on the line for years and years to come.
DeCastro hasn’t quite developed into that yet going into his third offseason, though his rookie year was virtually a wash, which he spent mostly recovering from an MCL tear. He got off to somewhat of a slow start in year two as the starting right guard along the line, but as the season progressed, he started to show glimpses of that hypothetical future.
There were times, certainly in 2013 in which DeCastro looked downright dominant, and, if memory serves, he even finished the year being listed as a third alternate for the Pro Bowl at right guard, thought it never came that far.
This past season was not the forward progression that many were expecting, if the truth is to be told. Indeed, he struggled with consistency for much of the year. Some of his bigger struggles came in division matchups with the Ravens and Browns.
No doubt, the most celebrated moments of DeCastro’s season came as the pulling guard on the counter run, which the Steelers ran with great success toward the middle and later stages of the season. He excelled as a pulling guard in college, and is continuing to adapt to the NFL level in that regard as the years go by.
There are occasions, however, in which he can be overpowered with relative ease by a particularly strong interior lineman. This is something that has been an issue with DeCastro since he arrived in Pittsburgh. While he is a sound technician, sometimes the perfect technique cannot counter overpowering strength.
DeCastro also went from solid to inconsistent in pass protection as the season progressed, to the point at which by the end of the year he seemed to be good for surrendering a few pressures up the middle per game.
That’s not to say that he has plateaued by any means. I have no doubt that DeCastro will continue to improve, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him in the Pro Bowl following next season. I expect that he will be a part of this offensive line for many years to come yet.