Steelers G David DeCastro Must Meet Expectations In 2013

By Jeremy Hritz

The sentiment last year was that the Pittsburgh Steelers hit the lottery when guard David DeCastro fell to them at pick # 24 in the NFL Draft. At Stanford, DeCastro was heralded as one of the best guard prospects in years, and he was projected to be a week one starter for the Steelers against the Denver Broncos. Unfortunately, DeCastro suffered what appeared to be a horrific knee injury in the third preseason game against the Buffalo Bills that ended his rookie season before it began. Thankfully, for DeCastro and the Steelers, he was able to rehab and work himself back into the starting lineup in week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys. DeCastro went on to start the following week against the Bengals, but a hamstring injury kept him out of the season finale against the Cleveland Browns.

In the two games that DeCastro started, his play was uneven, with strokes of genius mixed with missed assignments. The missed time and lack of live-game experience resulted in three surrendered sacks, though in his defense in his start against the Bengals, he was battling a hamstring injury.

In Dave Bryan’s Steelers offensive line breakdown in which he grades the performance of each individual offensive lineman (these grades are calculated based on the number of successful and unsuccessful plays), he scored DeCastro as a 93% overall against the Cowboys and an 81% overall against the Bengals. Overall, in those two games, DeCastro was graded as a better pass protector than a run blocker, though the three sacks speak otherwise. While not performances predictive of an All-Pro career, it is the experience that he gained that will prove most important this season.

In an article by Tribune Review’s Alan Robinson published at the end of May, DeCastro interpreted the adversity from his rookie season as a positive and talked about his greatest discernment from last season being the importance of actively using his hands. DeCastro said, “The NFL is a lot different game than it is in college, just technique-wise, using your hands.” In the same article, his teammate Steve McLendon emphasized the same concept: “He came in last year and I would tell him, ‘Hey, man, get your hands on me. This is a physical game. If you let somebody push you around, they\’re going to push you around every day.\’” Now, as he is preparing for his sophomore campaign, DeCastro feels that he is operating on “instinct” and that his challenging rookie season was a “good learning experience.”

For a player to overcome a speculated season-ending knee injury to return to start two games speaks to their perseverance. Fully healthy and familiar with the offense, the expectations that were in place for DeCastro as a rookie are now even higher, and he will be looked to assert himself as a leader on potentially stellar Steelers offensive line.

If DeCastro can live up to his college billing and stay healthy, he could help to better what has been an underwhelming Steelers’ offensive line over the past couple of seasons. And because regenerating an anemic and keeping Ben Roethlisberger upright will be keys to success in 2013, it is critical that he does.

  • dgh57

    Considering how much he played last year to me it’s like having two 1st rd. picks this year! I will also give him a break on how he played last season. Maybe he was favoring his knee, maybe it was the scheme(power scheme) they were using on those plays where he looked bad, or from missed practice time while rehabilitating. I don’t know for sure what it was but I can’t judge his play from only 2 regular season games! I think he played in a zone blocking scheme in College and that should fit his skill set much better as that is what we are going to be implementing into our offense this season. He also said earlier that things have become more “instinctive” this off season! So I’m looking for GOOD things from him this season!!

  • cencalsteeler

    I have a feeling DeCastro will shine this year. Rookie seasons, players seem to have the “deer in the headlight” look, with the adjustments and transitions of playing in the NFL. He is an intelligent player who will be leaned on heavily this year. His athleticism will be noticed when we see the zone blocking scheme this year, coupled with his pulling assignments. His play will be very influential in determining the success of this years offense.

  • 2443scott

    so why is david being picked out for expectations there have been so many others who werent hurt and they did little to nothing…..i can name 1 sanders how longs he been with steelers and he isnt even a first string wr only reason he is this year is because we got rookies from last draft where is his expectations and all the ones the steelers let go this year if steelers wouldnt of matched his offer he be gone too…i think david should get that 4 year turn over just like all those other slackers who just collected there pay checks and left after 4 years and i throw wallace in that crowd too he never wanted or tried to become a all around wr….i am sorry but to place any kind of expectation on david is unfair more so cause he just started and didnt know any of play callings like he could of and being hurt and comeing back from that was more of a telling how much he trys hard …where are the expectations of mendenhall and redman and dwyer last year they werent hurt all season ..but to hear them talk this year they plan to work do more give me a break that was last years time.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    The expectations of DeCatro was very high where I had heard he is suppose to be better then Faneca which is a bold statement. I never heard anything like that about Sanders.

  • Brendon Glad

    I think he will meet even the most weighty of Steelers Nation expectations in year 2. I’m fairly confident his dad will kick his ass if he “floats” through an NFL career. 🙂 I expect him to not come into NFL football as easily as a Carlton Haselrig…but eventually be an Alan Faneca type. If I’m wrong, then yes, that will be a disappointment…but I’m calling year one an absolute wash…I can’t even remember Faneca’s first 2-3 games…and DeCastro at the end trying to catch up to the pack is something to simply ignore, cuz it meant nothing, unless he would have dominated or something like that.

  • Aundrey 3000

    When U think about who to be concerned with on the offensive line David DeCastro doesn’t come to mind. Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert are a different story all together on so many different levels. DeCastro is going to be all right, I need to see more from both our tackles