The Pittsburgh Steelers usually talk after the first round of the draft, having made their selection, about a typically small handful of players that they felt were ‘special’ players in that class, players that they would metaphorically ‘run up to the podium’ to draft by handing in their draft card.
One of those players that they were able to manage a sprint for was Stanford guard David DeCastro, who slipped to the 24th pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. While he was not immediately installed into the starting lineup, it did not take long.
He was working with the starting group by the time the preseason began, though his rookie season was almost entirely derailed by a knee injury. An MCL tear wiped out most of his rookie season, though he came back to start the final three games, and has been a fixture at right guard since.
Not just at right guard, but in the Pro Bowl, as he has earned the distinction for the past three seasons, putting him on a pace similar to his predecessor for the number 66 jersey, Alan Faneca, whom we will soon learn either did or did not make the 2018 Hall of Fame class.
Faneca earned his first Pro Bowl nomination and All-Pro distinction in his fourth season, as did DeCastro, and they have both basically been an annual presence since. DeCastro has been All-Pro for the past three seasons, twice on the first team.
He is coming off the best season of his career, by most estimates, even being named the best lineman in the NFL for the 2017 season by Pro Football Focus, and receiving a number of varying distinctions from other outlets as well.
Even he acknowledges that he is in the prime of his career right now. Six years into his career and still at a relatively young age, having just turned 28 earlier this month, he finds himself at a sweet spot where brain and brawn intersect at their highest level.
“I know how to play, it’s kind of like they always say your athleticism and your experience kind of meet. So as you get older your athleticism goes down and experience up”, he said this past week during Pro Bowl practices, which has become a familiar event for him.
“So it’s one of those things where you are just kind of in your prime and you’ve got to take advantage of it. Obviously there’s a huge tremendous amount of respect to be getting voted to the Pro Bowl three times. I never really dreamed of it”.
He has already been handsomely rewarded financially for his playing ability, having received a very generous contract extension two years ago entering his fifth season, representative of being one of the top interior linemen in the NFL. Really, the only thing he has left to accomplish other than sustained success is a Super Bowl ring or two.