Pro Football Focus Ranks David DeCastro Third Overall Among Guards

By Matthew Marczi

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive guard David DeCastro has reportedly been getting around this week on an ankle sprain without so much as a limp, according to various beat reporters’ accounts on Twitter.

That could certainly lead to good news for a Pittsburgh team in dire need of quality offensive line play if he is able to go this week. According to Pro Football Focus, after yet another strong outing before exiting with the injury against the Oakland Raiders, DeCastro has vaulted in the site’s rankings as the third-highest-graded offensive guard in the league.

In Pro Football Focus’ analysis, DeCastro trails just Evan Mathis of the Philadelphia Eagles and Louiz Vasquez of the Denver Broncos. While Mathis has a commanding lead over the rest of the league (it is worth noting that the Eagles have yet to have their Bye week) with an overall grade of 25.1, Vasquez is very much in his sights as the year progresses with an overall grade of 12.7.

After the last game, DeCastro now has an overall grade of 11.3 for the season. Meanwhile, New Orleans Saints guard Ben Grubbs had a rough week against the Buffalo Bills, which dropped him to fifth overall. Arizona Cardinals guard Daryl Colledge is currently ranked fourth—in eight games—with a grade of 8.9.

What I find interesting is that neither DeCastro nor Mathis—the evident clear favorite for current best guard in the league—are strong pass protectors, but more than serviceable. Mathis’ grade in pass protection is just 2.4, and DeCastro’s is 2.2. Mathis has allowed just one sack, but also three hits and 10 hurries. DeCastro has allowed two sacks, three hits, and seven hurries.

Where the separation comes is in the run-blocking department, but the evidence suggests that Mathis’ grade is boosted—perhaps significantly—by the offense that Chip Kelly and the Eagles employ.

Mathis’ run blocking grade is far and away the best in the league at 20.5, but second in the league is Todd Herremans, the other Eagles offensive guard. His run blocking grade is 14.5, yet his overall grade is -1.4 due to a terrible -18.1 grade in pass protection.

Overall, DeCastro ranks fourth in the league as a run blocker, with Minnesota Vikings guard Brandon Fusco ranked third. DeCastro’s 6.2 grade in the running game comes primarily from his dominant performance against the Baltimore Ravens, when he earned a grade of 3.6. The week before, the entire offensive line struggled against the New York Jets, as reflected in his -1.9 game that week.

Over the past two weeks, however, he has really solidified. His pass protection is also improving. His best grade in pass protection, in fact, came against the Jets, and over the past four weeks, he has only allowed one sack, one hit, and three hurries. His grade in pass protection over that span is actually 3.7. The fact that he has yet to draw a flag is just the cherry on top.

Yes, DeCastro is truly developing into the top-tier first-round talent that he was believed to be when the Steelers gleefully jogged their card up to the podium to draft him last year. That the data from Pro Football Focus supports this observation is not a necessary condition for that to be true, but corroborating evidence is a useful tool. Make no mistake, it will be a big boost if the Steelers could have one of their best players on the field next week when they take on the New England Patriots.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • steeltown

    Its nice to watch him come into his own..and its nice to know we hit on an early OL pick, between him, Pouncey and the newly signed Velasco we have a good interior, especially when you consider we also have Foster and Beachum on roster… if we could just figure this damn LT thing

  • Fritz Baughman

    The kid is a beast…and getting better.

  • Chris Ranieri

    If Mike Adams would play to the potential the FO saw in him by drafting him second round, Pouncey could regain his health, and DD continues to improve; we could be well on our way to having a much more solid OL.

    I’m curious to see what position we target in the 2014 draft.

  • cencalsteeler

    Those stats say a lot about a guard who is on a offense that, lets be honest, isn’t setting the world on fire. David is a class act kid who has a bright future. I predict he will have a nice amount of pro bowl appearances in his future. Proud that he is a Steeler.

  • cencalsteeler

    It can only get better, right?

  • dgh57

    And he’s only in his second year, technically his rookie year if you rule out his year being on IR. With playing time he will only get better!

  • Douglas Andrews

    Nice to see that our First round investment is panning out to be a great Pro. David hasn’t played a full season but is steadily improving.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Adams is the unknown maybe with the experience he gained this year along with dedicating himself to getting stronger he can live up to the 2nd draft pick. We know he can play RT question is can he consistently play the speed rushers at the LT position. Maybe he can work with Max Starks in the offseason I remember Max had the same problem when he first started.

  • Kysteeler

    Adams has looked horrible this season, he looks like he has cinder blocks for feet. I would love to the kid to pan out, but I believe he is a RT only.

  • Matthew Marczi

    To be fair, he has been doing a solid job (mostly at tight end, but also at right tackle two weeks ago and then a decent look at left tackle last week) since he was demoted. I’m not saying he’s ready to jump back in, but I certainly still have hope for him at left tackle.

  • Douglas Andrews

    I agree i’m not ready to give up just yet. I just think he needs a good offseason to go along with this valuable experience he’s getting now.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Hoping for a playmaker…likely a WR.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Would like to see Pouncey and Velasco scrap it out next camp for the starting center spot with the loser kicking over to LG. These 3 need to be on the field together.