It’s usually the players on offense that make a big enough impact to win our MVP honour. There are always plenty of stats to back up their performances. And so, it was again this year.
Ben led the NFL in pass completions (452) and passing yards (5,129) and became the second player in franchise history to lead the league in both categories in a season, joining Jim Finks (1955).
James Conner surpassed our expectations gaining 1,470 total yards from scrimmage over 13 games. JuJu Smith-Schuster had 1426 yards receiving and Antonio Brown had his sixth straight 1000-yard season.
One of the reasons those players can put those impressive figures together is a solid Steelers offensive line. The best in the NFL I believe, but I am just a little biased.
They all go quietly about their work while the stars receive all the plaudits and shine under the media spotlight. That’s why I am absolutely over the moon to announce that David DeCastro has won SNUK’s MVP award for last year. The contribution to the team’s offensive success by the line and DeCastro has now been properly recognised.
DAVID DECASTRO #66
David DeCastro entered the 2012 draft as a likely first round pick, but which one? At Stanford, he was on the offensive line that protected Andrew Luck who was considered the overall number one selection to be taken by the Colts.
That part worked out and the Colts got their franchise quarterback. DeCastro had been strongly touted to go to the Bengals who had two first round picks. Instead, Cincinnati took Dre Kirkpatrick and picked up their guard at 27 with Kevin Zeitler.
Projected as the draft’s best interior lineman, DeCastro at 6-5, 310 pounds was viewed as solid in both run and pass blocking. Exactly what the Steelers needed to protect their quarterback.
He started all 39 games in three years at Stanford and didn’t allow a sack his final year.
The Boston Globe rated him highly. Widely regarded as the best prospect since Steven Hutchinson in 2001 (Seahawks). His intensity and competitiveness set him apart in addition to superior hands and terrific feet, as evidenced by the best three-cone time of any lineman at the combine. Can handle defensive tackles and pull in front of a run. Will start from the first day of camp.
Steelers drafted Maurkice Pouncey in round one of the 2010 draft and were never afraid to select an offensive lineman in the first round of the draft. With injuries ravaging the Steelers offensive line in 2011 and with veteran Chris Kemoeatu being benched, the scene was set for the Steelers to take DeCastro.
The Lions were interested in taking a lineman and they selected one place in front of the Steelers so the big question was whether he would still around when they selected at 24. DeCastro had a strong showing in position workouts at the NFL combine especially in the agility drills and was projected to go high.
Ed Bouchette suggested they would select Dont’a Hightower and projected DeCastro to go to the Chiefs at #11.
After the Steelers made their choice, general manager Kevin Colbert came out with the overused cliché, “Really, we didn’t think David would be there at 24, quite honestly. We value him that high.”
Colbert suggested that DeCastro was among a handful of “special” players the Steelers thought were available in the draft. As the draft process progressed and the player was still available, they considered making a trade to move higher to get their man.
“We identified several players we would trade up to get and he was one of them,” admitted Colbert. With every pick used by other teams, the odds increased. “This kid is an exceptional player,” acknowledged Colbert.
Coach Tomlin called evaluating DeCastro for the draft as “fun.” “Everything we would ask him to do you saw him do at Stanford whether it was pulling or pass protection. He’s a tough guy. He has a lot of attributes we think will help our football team.”
DeCastro called his reaction to becoming a Steeler as, “surreal… stunned.” Six years later, I will imagine that he will feel the same about our appreciation for his services.
Stanford image with Andrew Luck courtesy Jim Z Rider US Presswire.