When the Pittsburgh Steelers were on the clock for the 24th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, they may as well have jogged their card up to the podium to select guard David DeCastro, such was their excitement over his availability at their draft spot.
Because of a preseason injury, however, it was only in his second season that the team has finally begun to see the investment bear fruit—which was particularly crucial, considering he inadvertently took out the team’s other most talented offensive lineman on the second drive of the season.
DeCastro had a bit of an up and down year at times, getting off to a slow start and working through some minor injuries, but there were stretches where he played at a Pro Bowl level. The season finale against the Cleveland Browns had a bit of everything in terms of performance.
The Steelers have traditionally been a heavy run-right team; however, with a pulling guard on the right side, Pittsburgh has been experimenting with some more plays toward the left. They ran this play—pulling both DeCastro and Heath Miller—several times against the Browns.
DeCastro picked up outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, in the process turning him and sealing him behind the play. With Miller and Kelvin Beachum also making good on their assignments, it made for an easy seven-yard gain for Le’Veon Bell.
Here is that same play again, this time in the third quarter. Once again, DeCastro pulled to the left and sealed off Mingo. This time Ramon Foster struggled to maintain his block on Billy Winn, but Bell managed to squeeze through the tight alley and was able to pick up a nine-yard gain on the play.
This play is a nice show of resilience from DeCastro. He and Marcus Gilbert worked double team on Ahtyba Rubin to begin the play, which was designed to go through the A Gap. Rubin got the better of DeCastro and was able to seal off the gap, but Bell stayed on his feet and worked around DeCastro, who then sealed off Rubin to the inside, which allowed Bell to gain five yards out of nothing.
On the other hand, here is an example of one of DeCastro’s few missteps. He missed picking up D’Qwell Jackson on a pull, who proceeded to make the tackle on Jonathan Dwyer after just a two-yard gain. DeCastro has one of these plays every now and then, but he is quickly emerging as perhaps the Steelers’ next Pro Bowl player, as early as next season.