The 2012 NFL draft taught me a very valuable lesson tonight and that is to never say never. Stanford guard David DeCastro falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers is an example that we can point to for several years to come. The 22 year old guard was supposedly unobtainable for the Steelers unless they were to trade up into the top 15 to get him. At best I thought he could have fell to around pick 20, but that was in my most wildest scenarios. None of those scenarios included what happened Thursday night in New York.
So how did the best guard in the draft that recorded 316 knockdowns, 68 touchdown-resulting blocks and a blocking consistency grade of 91.63% during his career fall down to 24? For starters, interior linemen never seem to get respect in round one of the draft. Just last year Danny Watkins was the only guard drafted in round one at that was by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 23rd pick while center Mike Pouncey was draft by the Miami Dolphins with pick 15. In 2010 Mike Iupati was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers at 17, one pick ahead of where the Steelers took center Maurkice Pouncey. They were the only two interior linemen drafted in the first round that year. In 2009 it was centers Alex Mack and Eric Wood that were the only two interior linemen drafted in round one. In 2008 there were no guards or centers taken in round one and in 2007 Ben Grubbs was the lone guard take in round one by the Baltimore Ravens with the 29th pick.
All of the guard disrespect aside in past drafts, this is David “Freaking” DeCastro we are talking about here. A kid that allowed only one sack during his collegiate career. An aggressive technician whose father and grandfather were South African rugby stars. This is no ordinary guard we are talking about here and thus the reason he was considered by many worth a top 10 selection. Even Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert was pretty shocked he fell all the way down the board like a linebacker falling prey to a second level block by Double D. Colbert said in his press conference following the selection when asked if he thought he would be on the board at 24, “No, really we didn’t think David would be there at 24. We valued him very high. As we said the other day, there were a few special players in this group that we thought would be easy to evaluate and he was one of them.” Can you imagine what it must have been like in the Steelers war-room after the Detroit Lions turned in their selection of Iowa tackle Riley Reiff? There had to be a ton of high-fives I am willing to bet.
So who do we thank for this gift? The Miami Dolphins for starters as they selected Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the 8th pick. While the selection was not overly shocking, it forced one more player down the board. Next on the thank you card list must be the Arizona Cardinals for taking Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd to perhaps appease Larry Fitzgerald. DeCastro was well needed and a perfect fit for Pittsburgh West. Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll also needs a hat tip for reaching for West Virginia defensive end Bruce Irvin. That was one of the most surprising picks in the round.
The dominoes continued to fall the Steelers way, but surely DeCastro wouldn\’t make it past the Cincinnati Bengals second pick in round one, the 21st selection. This was a gift on a silver platter for team owner Mike Brown. Brown indeed passed on DeCastro and decided to trade the pick to the New England Patriots and they promptly selected Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones. Once that pick was announced I got real excited when I looked at the draft board. I knew the Lions would have to accept their gift of Reiff if he was there, so all we needed was for the Cleveland Browns to pass on DeCastro. They did, and it was for a 28 year old quarterback named Brandon Weeden out of Oklahoma State. The Browns, who needed right side guard help, delivered DeCastro right to the Steelers with that pick. How fantastic is that?
The Steelers now have one of their biggiest needs addressed in this draft and years from now we can thank the Bengals and the Browns for playing a big role in that. The Steelers love value and Colbert always seems to get it no matter where he picks in the first round. How aggravated do you think the Baltimore Ravens must have been when they saw us get the gift from the other two AFC North teams? That might have been the real war-room to see the reaction in, not the Steelers. So who did the Ravens pick in first round? They didn\’t pick anyone as they traded out of the round with the Minnesota Vikings.
I think I speak for all of Steeler Nation when I say thank you to the Bengals and the Browns organizations. The Steelers will hopefully remind you both of this gift for the next 10 years.