Where were you when you first heard the news? Pro Football Focus is slowly teasing along its top 50 players for the 2018 season, revealing 10 at a time, and yesterday’s reveal saw Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro right guard David DeCastro recognized by the outlet.
“A former first-round pick, DeCastro has seen his overall PFF grade improve in each of the past three seasons, topping out with a 91.7 in 2017 that saw him earn our Matthews Award, given to the game’s best offensive lineman in a given season”, Sam Monson writes.
He also notes that “DeCastro didn’t surrender a sack all season, allowing just one hit and 14 hurries, but it was run-blocking where he really stood out for the Steelers”, a fact of which I’m sure Steelers fans have become well aware. Many of the team’s most successful runs in recent years have come behind one of his pulls.
“The power with which DeCastro was able to drive defenders away from the point of attack either at the line or against linebackers at the second level was remarkable”, Monson concluded, “and who knows if his development has yet topped out”.
The Stanford product was the 24th-overall selection by the Steelers in the 2012 NFL Draft. He was going to be a day-one starter, but a friendly-fire collision in I believe the third preseason game of his rookie season resulted in him suffering a torn MCL. He missed the first 13 games, but came back to start the final three, albeit very much looking like the rookie he was coming off an injury.
Truth be told, it wasn’t really until season three that everything really started to come together for DeCastro. He showed great flashes, of course, particularly in the running game, but he had significant bouts of inconsistency.
He has since turned himself into a perennial All-Pro, making the list, and the Pro Bowl, in each of the past three seasons. Perhaps it’s worth noting that former Steelers great Alan Faneca also failed to make the Pro Bowl during his first three seasons, yet hardly missed one since.
There is no doubt in my mind that DeCastro is the best lineman on the team right now and will probably be the best for the next several years. He is the one legitimately elite player that holds the entire group together on the field, though the unit as a whole is strong.
So far, he is the only member of the Steelers that has been represented in the site’s top 50 players, with the first 20 having been unveiled. I’m sure there will be at least one more—that being Antonio Brown of course—but Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Cameron Heyward might also receive a mention.