While the Pittsburgh Steelers may have gained some tangible evidence of improvement, improving their win total by three games and hosting a playoff game as a division champion for the first time in four seasons, there is no doubt that the team is far from a finished product.
No team, of course, is a finished product in the offseason. Every team loses players to free agency and retirement, and replaces them through the same free agency process, as well as the draft.
With all of the change that occurs during the offseason, it’s often difficult to predict how a particular team might fare. They may wind up holding the Lombardi trophy or the first overall draft pick when all is said and done.
In order to gain a better feel for not only the issues facing the team this year, but how those issues might play out, it’s useful to take the devil’s advocate approach. This is the pessimistic side of the coin.
Question: Will David DeCastro become a Pro Bowl player in year four?
David DeCastro may have already shown himself to be a key cog in the Steelers’ offensive line, and an integral part of their plans for the future, but that doesn’t mean that he is, or ever will be, among the cream of the crop at his position.
Through his first three seasons in the league, he has shown to be lacking the key ingredient that separates the top tier from the rest, and that is consistency. Has DeCastro delivered Pro Bowl-worthy performances over the course of the past two seasons? Certainly. Particularly pertaining to his work in the running game, he has shown that he can dominate at times.
But, as of yet, he hasn’t shown the ability to do so with the type of regularity and repeatability that will convince me that he is deserving of post-season accolades and honors.
I think one of the areas in which he is being held back is in his physical strength. He seemed to be physically exploited during the early portions of his second season, and then sporadically later on, particularly when being faced with talented interior defensive linemen.
No matter how much technique and leverage he may employ, it seems to me that DeCastro loses physical battles a bit too frequently. If he is to be an elite offensive lineman, then his victory to defeat ratio needs to improve.
Does this mean that he needs to spend the offseason in the weight room, getting stronger? I’m not entirely sure that it’s purely an issue of physical strength, and that the solution is simply adding more muscle mass.
The fact that DeCastro already plays alongside an All-Pro player to his left should make his job easier—and it does. He also has the right offensive line coach to help him get the most out of his talents. I think the rest of the equation is simply up to him. He has all the potential in the world to take the next step and become a decorated guard, but his previous body of work shows that he has not quite made it there yet.