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Patience pays off as Steelers score DeCastro

The SportsXchange

Pittsburgh's biggest need was filled in the biggest way when they drafted Stanford guard David DeCastro with the 24th choice in the first round. And they thanked their lucky stars.

He was ranked by most as the best guard in the draft and many saw him as a top 15 pick. The Steelers considered trying to move up from No. 24 to go get him, but held their ground, possibly because they could not find a team willing to trade.

It turned into good fortune all the way around.

"Really," general manager Kevin Colbert said, "we didn't think David would be there at 24 quite honestly. We valued him that high."

The Steelers have been searching for a top-flight guard ever since Alan Faneca left and joined the Jets following the 2007 season. Chris Kemoeatu was their best, but coach Mike Tomlin benched him midway through his fourth year starting in 2011 because of his poor play.

Before the draft, the Steelers penciled in as starters two undrafted players, Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster. Trai Essex was the only veteran with any experience behind them.

DeCastro (6-5, 316) becomes the third high offensive lineman selected by the Steelers in the past three years after they ignored linemen on the first two rounds since early this century. They drafted center Maurkice Pouncey in the first round in 2010 and tackle Marcus Gilbert second round in 2011. Both started as rookies, as DeCastro is expected to do next season.

"Everything we would ask him to do you saw him do at Stanford, whether it was pulling or pass protection," Tomlin said. "He's a tough guy, he has a lot of attributes we think will help our football team."

Colbert said they got "everything you could ask for in a football player."

DeCastro started the past three seasons at right guard in Stanford's pro style offense and left with one year of eligibility. Tomlin said he will consider him at right guard or left in order for him to put the best guards in the lineup. He likely will remain at right guard, though, and if Foster beats out Legursky, he will be the one to move to the left side.

"If they're ready and capable and earn it, they play," Tomlin said. "That's always been our approach. It's the overall readiness of the individual player."

Colbert came away from DeCastro's pro day at Stanford figuring the Steelers had no chance at drafting him.

"It solidified what we thought," Colberet said. "It scared us a bit because he worked out so well we didn't think we'd get a shot at him."

Colbert said when it came near their turn, they were confident they would get a good player because "There were several players still available, again surprisingly, for us but David was the guy. He's great at the line of scrimmage, he can pull, he can trap, he's a solid pass protector. Really, the kid is good."
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