From the time that he was drafted with the 24th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft—what was considered a slide at the time—it was assumed all along that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ guard David DeCastro would, sooner rather than later, develop into a perennial Pro Bowler. The Stanford product has done that, and made some All-Pros along the way as well (frankly snubbed last season in favor of the Cleveland Browns’ Joel Bitonio).
On the other side is Ramon Foster, the 33-year-old former college free agent originally signed out of Tennessee in 2009. It took him until the 2013 before he was given a full-time starting position, though he started all 16 games in 2012. He started the first 13 at right guard after DeCastro suffered a torn MCL in the preseason. As DeCastro returned, left guard Willie Colon was lost for the year, and Foster started the final three games there, as well as almost every other game since.
The two of them have developed into one of the very best guard tandems in the NFL, and that fact was recently acknowledged by Pro Football Focus, who recently included the duo on their list of the top five guard combinations from around the league, checking in at number four.
“The conversation for the NFL’s best pass-blocking guard should always include David DeCastro as few players have been as consistent as he over the last six seasons”, Mark Chichester wrote. “Following the 2017 season where he finished second among guards with a pass-blocking grade of 89.7, the Steelers right guard allowed just one sack, two hits and 23 hurries from his 729 pass-blocking snaps in 2018, earning a pass-blocking grade of 86.1 in the process — the fifth straight season in which he’d earned a pass-blocking grade north of 80.0”.
This was in spite of the fact that they graded DeCastro lower than they normally have in recent years. He did start off a bit slow, suffering a hand injury in the opener and missing the next two games.
“Much like his teammate, Foster has long been a difference-maker in pass protection for the Steelers”, Chichester wrote of the team’s other guard. “He earned pass-blocking grades of 70.0 or higher in 13 of his 16 games a season ago — with eight of those games hitting the 80.0-plus mark — and his single-season pass-blocking grade of 84.5 ranked eighth among 86 qualifying guards, just three spots below DeCastro”.
Only three pairs of guard finished ranked ahead of them, starting with the New England Patriots’ combination of Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason. Behind them were Quenton Nelson and Mark Glowinski of the Indianapolis Colts followed by Zach Martin and Conner Williams of the Dallas Cowboys. Despite not playing together yet, Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler of the New York Giants ranked fifth.