With the 2016 NFL Draft now over and the bulk of the heavy lifting done with regard to the roster building process now out of the way, it is easier to begin to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand at certain positions, and what the implications might be of a variety of moves for certainly players.
And take stock is what we shall do, as every move has ramifications up and down the roster, so now we will take a look at some specific players and see how the team’s moves during the course of the offseason thus far, and more specifically since the draft, has sent their stock rising or falling.
Player: G David DeCastro
Stock Value: Up
If you are coming off of your first season of making the first-team All-Pro list and are in line to receive a new contract that will likely pay you tens of millions in guaranteed money, then I think it is probably safe to say that your stock is up—although that is also likely the peak value of your stock as well.
Indeed, Steelers guard David DeCastro is metaphorically on top of the world these days, or at least at the top of his profession. In his fourth season in the league, he cracked the barrier that separates the common starter from the recognized best at the position, first receiving his first Pro Bowl accolade, and later being announced as a first-team All-Pro, joining wide receiver Antonio Brown with both honors last year for Pittsburgh.
A former first-round draft pick during the 2012 NFL Draft, DeCastro was on schedule to be an opening-day starter had he not suffered a torn MCL during the preseason. As a result of the injury, he missed most of his rookie season, returning only to start the final three games, where he looked every bit the part of a rookie coming off a knee injury and stepping in cold against mid-season veterans.
He began his upward trajectory in his first full season in 2013, but still had his struggles, in particular against stronger interior linemen and in pass protection. But he has gradually improved in both areas in terms of functional strength and in rush scheme recognition, which he parlayed into his best, and certainly most consistent, season thus far in 2015.
I will admit that I was a bit surprised to see him awarded with the first-team All-Pro accolade, not to say that it was undeserved. But now that he is in that club, he is likely to repeat as long as he retains a certain level of consistency from this point on in his playing career.
One of the elite pulling guards in the league today, the Steelers liberally exploit his ability to get out in open space on runs to the left after being traditionally a right-hand-dominated running team. Quite frankly, it’s not every player that can single-handedly serve that sort of role in influencing the nature of a team’s play calls. DeCastro is one of those players, and he may still be getting better. He’s certainly going to get a whole lot richer.