Hard to quibble with Steelers' pick

Posted April 26, 2012 @ 11:22 p.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

"You shouldn't miss on a first-rounder," Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said at the Steelers' predraft press conference this week. "To me, that's a given."

The Steelers have selected very well in Round One throughout Colbert's time running the draft. Sometimes they have traded up with great success, such as when they acquired S Troy Polamalu in ’03 or WR Santonio Holmes in ’06.

Sometimes, though, the board has broken well in their favor. They drafted a franchise quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger at No. 11 in ’04. TE Heath Miller (No. 30 overall in ’05) was a very nice value, too, as was C Maurkice Pouncey (No. 18, 2010).

Time will tell whether their 2012 first-round pick, Stanford OG David DeCastro, the No. 24 overall selection, ends up outperforming his draft spot. But we can say this these two things: he’s the consensus top player available at his position, and it’s a just a little surprising he lasted this long.

PFW personnel analyst Nolan Nawrocki wrote the following of DeCastro (6-4, 316 pounds) in the 2012 Draft Preview: "Big, physical, nasty, strong technician with distinction as the best pulling guard in this year's draft class. Is a proven, perennial Pro Bowl-caliber plug-and-play starter with no glaring deficiencies in his game. One of the best all-around O-line prospects to emerge from the draft since Seattle Seahawks 2001 17th-overall pick Steve Hutchinson."

Nawrocki ranked DeCastro No. 9 among all prospects in the Draft Preview, and he had him stacked at No. 16 on a consensus ranking of the top 100 players based on draft grades from around the league.

Never did it occur to me that DeCastro could fall this far, but he did, and the Steelers, in need of guard help, stopped his slide. He could start immediately at right guard, where he starred at Stanford, though if Pittsburgh retains elements of its old rushing game under new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, he could make a lot of sense at left guard. The Steelers primarily ran off the right side a season ago, with the left guard being asked to pull to his right side.

On the draft's first day, the Steelers took a big step toward fortifying the interior of their offensive line, something that's been a problem for some time. Want to know why Pittsburgh keeps chugging along year after year? Because the Steelers have a knack for making picks like this in Round One — logical, talented ones who fit their schemes. It's a rite of spring, like Calvin Borel skimming the rail at Churchill Downs.