Christmas in April

Maybe it wasn't Rod Woodson falling to the 10th pick in 1987, or Ben Roethlisberger falling to the 11th pick in 2004, but the best college guard in the country fell to pick 24 last night. And David DeCastro is now a Pittsburgh Steeler.

The Steelers identified several trade-up opportunities in the first round of last night's draft, and David DeCastro was one of them.

Does it tell you what kind of night the Steelers had when they didn't trade up and got DeCastro anyway?

Yes, it was a night for Ben Roethlisberger and the rest of the Steelers to celebrate because they drafted the best interior lineman in the draft with pick 24.

DeCastro is a 6-4 7/8, 316-pound guard from Stanford whom scouts believe – by a consensus – has several Pro Bowls in his future.

DeCastro's mobility and toughness stand out above his other assets, and he is one of the few players in the draft who could possibly step into the Steelers' starting lineup early in the season, most likely at left guard. DeCastro played right guard at Stanford. He started all 39 games the last three seasons. He was an Associated Press All-America as a senior.

"A great player, excellent intangibles, character: tough," said Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert.

"There are no questions with his game," said coach Mike Tomlin. "Everything we asked him to do, we saw him do."

DeCastro, who turned 22 in January, was born in Bellevue, Washington, and went to Stanford in 2008. He did not play as a freshman and moved into the starting lineup in 2009. He was an honorable mention all-conference that year, and All-Pac-12 the next two years.

At the combine, DeCastro's 40 time of 5.43 belied his outstanding mobility on the field.

A better indication are the agility drills, the 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone drills. DeCastro's 3-cone time of 7.30 was the best of all offensive linemen at the combine, and his 4.56 shuttle was beaten by mere hundredths by only two other linemen. DeCastro also benched 225 pounds 34 times.

All of it added up to a player whom the Steelers thought so highly they were willing to trade up. But the draft went decidedly the Steelers' way, particularly once the Cincinnati Bengals – who need a guard – traded down from pick 21 and then Cleveland Browns drafted a 28-year-old quarterback with pick 22. The Lions, needing a tackle, took OT Riley Reiff, another player the Steelers coveted. The Steelers turned their pick in immediately.

"A better group presented itself to us than we expected," Colbert said of the group of players available at pick 24.

And of their desire for DeCastro: "We identified several guys we would consider trading up to get. This kid was one of them," Colbert said.

Colbert was asked for what he liked most about DeCastro.

"His overall ability to be aggressive and be athletic at the same time, he said.

(To read transcripts of Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin and Dave DeCastro, click here and then check the top of the message board.)


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