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NFL Analyst Thinks Steelers G David DeCastro Will Be The Most Improved Offensive Lineman In 2013


Pittsburgh Steelers right guard David DeCastro has been named by Bucky Brooks of NFL.com as the top candidate to be the Most Improved Offensive Lineman for 2013.

Brooks writes:

Most NFL players make the biggest strides in development during the offseason between Years 1 and 2. Part of the growth stems from a better understanding of the tempo and intensity of the pro game. Through valuable game experience, young players develop the instincts and awareness to excel.

In DeCastro\’s case, the epiphany occurred during a three-game run at the end of the regular season when he logged significant playing time as a starter. The 2012 first-rounder dominated at the point of attack, displaying the strength and power to move defenders off the ball. Additionally, DeCastro showed the balance, body control and lateral quickness to handle skilled pass rushers in isolated matchups. DeCastro frequently won on quick sets in pass protection, with his accurate strikes stopping rushers dead in their tracks. Overall, DeCastro\’s combination of sound technique, footwork and fundamentals solidified the Steelers\’ interior offensive line, leading to more efficient play from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

DeCastro did well to just get himself back on the field after suffering the injury that he did during the preseason and if not for the new injured reserve rule that was instituted last season, his entire rookie season would have been wiped out completely.

While I firmly believe that DeCastro is indeed primed for a great 2013 season, Brooks\’ praise of DeCastro\’s play in the final three games of the 2012 season might be just a little over the top. In DeCastro\’s debut against the Dallas Cowboys, he played well although he did allow a sack in that game. However, the Cowboys were without the services of starting nose tackle Jay Ratliff in that game, and their linebackers were also little banged up and without the services of Sean Lee.

In DeCastro\’s second start against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Stanford product had his hands full with defensive tackle Geno Atkins, and it resulted in him allowing two quarterback sacks and three quarterback pressures in the game.

DeCastro did rebound in the season finale against the Cleveland Browns; however, and while he wasn\’t dominant in that game, his play was certainly above the line.

DeCastro has worked hard this offseason and the experience that he gained late last season was invaluable as it helped him experience the speed of the game more than anything else. As long as he can stay healthy in 2013, he most certainly can become one of the premier interior linemen in the league and quite possibly earn his first of what we hope is several Pro Bowl and All-Pro designations.

Steelers David DeCastro Sack Allowed Dallas Cowboys Animated GIF

Steelers David DeCastro Sack No. 1 Allowed Cincinnati Bengals Animated GIF

Steelers David DeCastro Sack No. 2 Allowed Cincinnati Bengals Animated GIF

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • VaDave

    I sure hope those are just examples of rookie miscues. Not a lot of leg drive there. It’s pretty sure he’s not seen the likes of Geno Atkins before who’s made a habit of making a lot of veteran OGs look like rookies.

  • dgh57

    I agree Brook’s analysis is a little over the top but at least it’s on the positive side unlike some of these pundits who always bash our Steelers! DeCastro was a rookie(not familiar with the speed of the game) coming off a serious knee injury and had missed a lot of practice time rehabilitating his knee so I guess I can understand the way he played. DeCastro has already said that things are becoming more “instinctive” and the flaws we saw in his game is something a few preseason games won’t cure. So I agree with Mr. Brooks on DeCastro’s play should be much improved this season.

  • Jazz

    What he did in College is old news; he needs to focus on what he has done in the NFL which is not much. I hope he too learns from his Rookie mistakes and take the next step forward. I will be watching his play during preseason. I just signed up for the NFL Pre-season, it wasn’t that much at all. I will watch every game from my laptop. Awesome!

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I think there is a TON of talent on our Oline for a change. I don’t think Pouncey has shown all he can do yet and better talent next to him should help that. When I think about those last 3 games, I look at the reality that our entire right side of the line were rookies, both G and T. Foster will be the old man on the line at age 27. Our projected starters….

    Gilbert 25 (3rd year)
    Foster 27 (5th year)
    Pouncey 23 (4th year)
    Decastro 23 (2nd year)
    Adams 23 (2nd year)

    Potential backups:

    Joe Long 23
    Gus Whimper 30
    Mike Farrell 23
    Mike Golic Jr. 23
    Kevin Beachum 24
    Justin Cheadle 24
    John Malecki 25
    Nik Embernate 22
    Chris Hubbard 22

    Joe Madson 23

    If Gus Whimper doesn’t make this team, our oldest offensive lineman will be Foster at 27. Ironically he will also have the most experience in his 5th year. The 2nd most experienced guy will be Pouncey who will only be 23, and Gilbert will be the 2nd oldest at 25. This line could be together for some time. They are young and learning a new system, but I can’t help but be positive about our Oline.

  • steves

    After seeing your clips above I don’t think Bucky got a clue as to what the hell he is talking about. Castro will do well,, but it will be a constant battle in the trenches before he gets a firm grasp on how to pass block.

  • steeltown

    I somewhat agree..and to be honest, I like the potential in the young backup guys a few of them could turn into solid players one day

  • colingrant

    Perhaps it was an oversight, but Brooks doesn’t mention what might be the most significant factor enabling DeCastro’s improvement; that being, Jack Bicknell and the blocking scheme changes he expects to make. More zone blocking and line movement suits DeCastro’s skill set more than the inline, no movement, mauling type blocking scheme that we’ve been playing, which I believe was more out of necessity due to the lack of conditioning and athleticism of our former o-lines. Nonetheless, not only will DeCastro benefit, but so will Pouncey who has had to conform to the previous O-Line’s inability to move, by playing a mauling straight up style against the monstrous defensive tackles in the AFC north. He’s so good that he’s gotten it done, but with Bicknell, we might see him playing to a Dermontti Dawson level, due to him being able to move and block in space. For the first time, everyone will witness his “full repertoire” of skills on a regular basis…………

    …….On another matter, by all accounts, Starks had an excellent year considering what was expected of him. But my goodness did he get abused in that middle clip or what? He wasn’t walked back to the quarterback, he was “jogged” back.

  • dgh57

    I agree, and if ever there was anything that could help Pouncey take it to a even higher level(scary thought) it’s this new ZBS being implemented! Like you said it should do wonders for Decastro’s play as well and I can’t wait to see these guys working together this season!

  • Luke Shabro

    I usually am not a huge fan of national writers especially when they talk about the Steelers but I like Bucky Brooks and I think he’s spot on with the Steelers. I’m pretty sure he’s written before about how underrated Roethlisberger and other Steelers are

  • Madi

    I do find it weird that Brooks ignored DeCastro’s miscues… But overall that’s not so bad, since everywhere else his miscues were blown way out of proportion. A lot of what I’ve read just did not paint him in a positive light at all, and I don’t know if this was because it was the end of the season or what, but they seemed to be ignoring the fact that those were the first three games of his career. If he hadn’t been hurt, those three games would have been weeks 1, 2, and 3, and he’d have been a much better player by weeks 15, 16, and 17.

    People seem to be using DeCastro’s performance as a reason to dim the hopes for his future. The way I see it, we are about to have the remarkable David DeCastro rookie season that we were all hoping for last year, except it will be even better than we expected, since he logged that playing time. He’s gonna be a breath of fresh air this September, and by December he’ll be a beast.

  • Ahmad

    Oh man he would have had Cotchery for an easy first down had DeCastro held his block. Now I know Redman was on a delay route but he could have at least chipped Atkins on his way out to his route. It’s clear as day that DeCastro was beat.

  • Busforever

    I recently re-viewed those last three games, looking especially De Castro, and I’m really optimistic for him. I think his main weakness was his hesitation, which could lead to some passivity (waiting, only reacting, didn’t have his hand and his feet ready). But that can only improve with experience. I found him very ready physically and with a good intensity. Geno Atkins had him a few times on passing plays, but De Castro dominated on the running plays. I also liked how he moved on LB when it was his assignation.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Since Bucky thinks it there is no chance he will. Bucky is possible the worst analyst Ive seen.

  • Douglas Andrews

    I think in those 3 gif’s we can pretty much see what Steve McClendon told Decastro during training camp. Decastro needs to get his hands on the defender and use his hands along with his feet. Since this certainly something that can be corrected, my guess is he improves greatly from rookie to second year and he becomes a pretty good O lineman for us.

  • steves

    Now you know why Starks was not resigned.

  • jmscooby

    DeCastro needs to improve his initial punch, IMHO. He’s playing as more of a catcher and doesn’t have the foot quickness to adjust. He allows defenders to cross his body.
    That being said, Ben only sees the left side of the field and doesn’t help him out much. Especially the first video, watch how the wide open man is to the right and completely ignored on a 3 step drop.

  • jmscooby

    His knee bend sucks.

  • charles

    You are right. Furthermore in all three clips Pouncey does not touch anybody.

  • Brian Thompson

    DeCastro is going to well to above average in his upcoming season…with that said, from my perspective in these cut-ups, Ben has open receivers each time if he moves up into to the pocket a couple of steps. The first one against Dallas, #17 is open on a dig route right as #83 Miller pushes LB inside at Ben’s plant foot. The second one against Bengals, that was on #33 Redman he helped (not really) on OLB when should have helped DeCastro allowing Ben to step up and hit #83 Miller in the right hook/curl zone or run with on one LB left in the middle. The third against the Browns, Ben hits his plant foot and then hops to his left instead of moving up in the pocket, #83 Miller is open to the left if he does. Ben is who he is and I love him for it, BUT the more I look at these clips, he makes my brain hurt! lol

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