04/30/2012 - For a general manager who claims he picks players not for needs but for wants, Kevin Colbert certainly filled plenty of needs in this draft. The Steelers' two biggest needs were offensive guards and tackles and, voila, that's what they took in the first two rounds. Their next biggest needs were inside linebacker and nose tackle and that's what they drafted in the third and fourth rounds. Rashard Mendenhall's laid up by ACL surgery, so a running back came in the fifth round. Overall, it appears the Steelers not only filled needs but did so with quality picks. They got the best guard in the draft in David DeCastro, and a tackle in the second round whom they gave a first-round grade, Mike Adams. Colbert made a nifty move by trading Pittsburgh's sixth-rounder to move 10 spots up in the fourth round and take Alameda Ta'Amu, the purest 3-4 nose tackle available. BEST PICK: Guard David DeCastro: The Steelers may have gotten a Maurkice Pouncey-like value pick, getting the best guard in the draft at No. 24. It just so happens to fill their biggest need and with DeCastro's experience and talent, he should start quickly. - The Sports Xchange
Some NFL scouts believe Stanford guard David DeCastro may be an even better interior line prospect than Maurkice Pouncey of Florida, who was drafted 18th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010 and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
Coaches and teammates believe DeCastro's serious attitude and penchant for perfection were as important as his innate physical abilities in making him as good as he is.
"He arrives angry and focused and expects everybody else to be the same," said Stanford Coach David Shaw. "If he thinks something needs to be said, he says it and when he speaks the players listen."
"He is so serious he sometimes thinks a high five after a touchdown is too frivolous because it might break concentration," offered Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. "But the person he is hardest on is himself."
Sure enough, after earning nothing but praise and honors for the last three seasons at Stanford, DeCastro's most vivid memory is one play as a redshirt freshman in 2009. It was The Sack -- the only one he gave up in his college career.
"Brian Price of UCLA," DeCastro recited. "I set outside and he came back and countered inside. He sacked Andrew."
Scouts think DeCastro's serious attitude and penchant for perfection will work well for him, especially packaged with his size, strength, quickness and ornery attitude on the field. It also helped that he flourished in a pro-style offense at Stanford, where he not only pass blocked for Luck, but was a key reason the Cardinal rushing game was one of the best in college football.
Although his father and grandfather were both rugby stars in South Africa, DeCastro credits his size and study habits to his mother, Jennifer, who is taller than six-feet and has three degrees, including a Ph.D. in audiolgy.
Still, DeCastro admits that although he loves academics he "hates to read," unless it is a playbook. Based on projections for his near future, that may be all he needs to read.
Pass blocking: Doesn't get beat. Has enough of an anchor and resets hands to get leverage if beaten initially. Keeps feet churning and his head up. Capable of blocking down with one hand and sliding to help tackle. Very aware of late blitzers, can stonewall them or ride them out of the pocket. Usually keeps arms extended in pass pro to maintain distance with his man. Loses the hand-to-hand battle occasionally but works to quickly counter.
Run blocking: Excels as a run blocker in power, zone and on the move. Plays with his eyes up. Takes defenders to the ground and doesn't let up. Rarely allows defenders to sidestep. Not dominant as a drive blocker but grinds to the whistle. Defensive tackles with elite power can anchor or move him off the snap.
Pulling/trapping: Dominant leading on pulls outside and traps inside. Reaches second level instantly, has natural bend and flexibility to get correct angle. Does not always dominate smaller defenders after initial contact, falling off instead of latching on, but can take out multiple targets when he squares. Will miss inside target on occasion, giving max effort to cut or reach the linebacker.
Initial Quickness: Very good off the snap. Gets hands up immediately, rarely beaten with an initial pass-rush move. Swims to reach second-level defenders. Generates push in goal-line situations, firing off hard and low.
Downfield: Has enough -- but not great -- speed. Very effective negating targets seven or eight yards downfield. Inconsistent sustaining blocks against powerful linebackers and defensive backs, lowering his head to easily be disengaged.
Intangibles: Solid work ethic and character. Known for his work on the practice field and weight room. Durable; could play every snap in any scheme. Chose Stanford for its academic standards.