I don’t know about you, but it seems to me all but a foregone conclusion that sixth-year Pittsburgh Steelers starting offensive guard David DeCastro is headed for his third straight Pro Bowl this year, and likely his second nod on the first-team All-Pro list. The season-ending injury suffered by Marshal Yanda only makes that all the more likely.
The 2012 first-round pick is enjoying arguably the best season of his career, even if the offense has not always been reflective of that fact. But he has been playing at a consistently high level for three years now, with the only real blemish in that time span being the rash of penalties he drew during the 2016 season.
13 games through the regular season, DeCastro is the only player on the team to have played literally every single snap that he could have possibly played. While quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and center Maurkice Pouncey have not been injured, they did come out of the end of the Titans game due to the blowout nature of the score.
Following a couple of injuries early on in his career—including a torn MCL that he suffered in his rookie preseason—DeCastro has been the poster child for durability, hardly even missing a practice, or requiring a day off in training camp.
That work and perseverance pays off, and he is now at a point in his career in which he is being recognized for it. One source that has been consistently praising him all season is Pro Football Focus, who yesterday ranked him as the second-best lineman in the NFL this season.
Listed behind only Eagles center Jason Kelce, Sam Monson wrote of DeCastro that he is “another player enjoying the best season of his career”, adding that he “is only getting better over the past few years. He has been a balanced player, yet to surrender a sack while dominating people at the point of attack with sheer power in the run game”.
“He has surrendered just 14 total pressures all season, playing every snap of Pittsburgh’s season”, Monson went on, “and cut down on the number of penalties he had a year ago, which was really the only black mark on his play that year. With Marshal Yanda on the shelf, DeCastro has assumed the mantle of the league’s best guard”.
That is high praise for the man, but unfortunately it is not enjoyed by his peers. None of his other teammates along the offensive line made the list of the top 25 linemen, and, in fact, looking at the grades, none of them are particularly close.
Maurkice Pouncey, for example, has the 18th-highest grade among guards at 66.1, scoring low as a run blocker. While Marcus Gilbert was actually close to making the list, Alejandro Villanueva was the 23rd-ranked tackle, and Chris Hubbard 37th.
Easily the most egregious was Ramon Foster’s abysmal grade of 49.4 on the season, 37th among guards. The site had high praise for him a year ago, but this year seems to think his run-blocking is terrible. So if you needed your dose of PFF hatred, suck on that.