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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Steelers get their guard


Brief and to the Point …

>> My Friday column looks at what Pedro Alvarez means to his hitting coach. A warning today: Our new site is expected to be down for some periods today. Thus, you’ll also see the column as a blog post here.

>> Why oh why does anyone ever fret over the Steelers going into a draft?

If they had to walk on hot coal to have landed a guard seen almost universally as a top-dozen pick, I’m guessing they would have done so.

But, for reasons entirely out of their control, they ended up with guard David DeCastro of Stanford, college football’s most decorated lineman and a 6-foot-5, 316-pound beast, with the 24th overall pick. Even though they still could have had targeted Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who went to the Patriots with the very next pick.

If you aren’t excited about a guard with the first-round pick, do four things:

1. Think of Ben Roethlisberger running for his life all season long.

2. Think of all the holes the running backs rarely found in the interior line.

3. Speak these two words: Alan Faneca.

4. Oh, and these two: Haloti Ngata. His reign of terror over the Steelers might be done.

Initial indications from the Steelers and from people on the outside is that DeCastro will jump right into the line, and Maurkice Pouncey’s precedent would suggest that’s feasible. That’s another bonus.

But I’ll also offer a word of caution. A lot of teams passed on DeCastro. All concerned agree he can get stronger. But specifically, the Bengals were in position to take DeCastro with their second first-round pick at No. 22 overall and opted instead to trade down a few notches and take another guard, Wisconsin’s Kevin Zeitler.

I’m not suggesting the Bengals are paragons of excellent drafting. Just saying there was something a lot of teams didn’t like.

Here is the Trib’s full draft coverage.

333292_90x135>> This won’t be just another Pirates-Braves game tonight for at least one participant: Jack Wilson will be facing his former team for the first time … ever.

He’d been in the American League since the trade in 2009, and he joined the Braves last season too late to be part of the whole Jerry Meals fiasco.

Anyone who knows Wilson shouldn’t be surprised he’s looking forward to this weekend almost as much as he’s looking forward to the Braves’ final three games of the season at PNC Park.

“Yeah, it’ll be nice to see everybody,” Wilson told me the other night. “But I’m bummed we’re not in Pittsburgh until the last series.”

Wilson is Atlanta’s backup shortstop, and he’s off to a .125 start at the plate.

>> This was the chat transcript from yesterday.

>> I’ll be off for the next week. A few of you might have noticed I’ve been going pretty much nonstop since Bradenton in mid-March. This is as good a time as any to step aside. Not much happening next week, Pirates on road, Penguins done, etc.

The blog will still be functional, in that I’ll have game threads up. But no Wakeup Call or anything else. I’ll be back to full blog duty on Monday, May 7.

The column today will be the last until Wednesday, May 9.

As always, it’s up to you to mind the store here.


  1. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    Happy Vacation to you!! It is well deserved. I’m not gong to read a thing until you come back!!

  2. Stanford 'Burgher says:

    Dejan – DeCastro completed 34 reps of 225 lbs on the bench press at the Combine. This was the best performance by an offensive guard prospect. Unlikely this is the reason teams passed on him.

  3. Stanford 'Burgher says:

    You were likely thinking of DeCastro’s fellow offensive line prospect, Jonathan Martin, who only completed 20 reps on the bench.

    DK: I’ve changed the wording. Was going off an NFL Network report right after the announcement. Thanks for that. Any other insight you can provide on DeCastro would be VERY welcome.

  4. Evan says:

    It’s like your not even leaving, having a giant picture of your head accompany your work on the site now.

    Thanks for bringing up Jack Wilson. Happened to see him on the top plays the other night. Too bad he was getting his home run robbed. Easy guy to root for – one of my all time favorites.

    Enjoy the well deserved break.

    DK: Thanks. Yeah, that big head … it will be addressed, too. Much bigger priorities now, if not necessarily bigger heads.

  5. rinsana11 says:

    I told you this on twitter, but just in case you did not get it, Jack Wilson is not the full-time shortstop for the Braves. From what I have been it’s the rookie Tyler Pastornicky and it’s been like that since Opening Day. Looks like 6 starts for Jack Flash and 13 for Pastornicky.

    DK: I appreciate that. It’s fixed.

  6. Derrrty19 says:

    DeCastro is a beast. He was only passed on because of his position. He’s the best Guard prospect to come through the draft in years. Steelers took full advantage of dumb drafting by other teams.

  7. aglebagel says:

    The Steelers’ drafting of DeCastro was made possible by inferior teams using their picks to fill needs instead of taking the best player available. Great for us.

    Sucks to see Hightower go to the Pats, though.

  8. Stanford 'Burgher says:


    I think DeCastro is going to end up being a phenomenal addition.

    The scouting reports emphasizing his run blocking are accurate; he’s one hell of a pulling guard and if you look at the tape, his pulling will legitimately remind you of Faneca in his heyday, except in reverse coming from the RG-spot to the left edge. Moreover, he was recruited out of high school as a center, and when Stanford was breaking in a new center during the 2011 season, he would assist the new center in altering the protection schemes at the line when Luck would audible (frequently). I can envision him and Pouncey working effectively together in giving Ben more latitude when running the no-huddle, or whatever else Haley has in mind.

    Finally, the “character” portions of the scouting reports are also accurate; DeCastro was the unquestioned leader on the line, the hardest worker, and one of the few guys his teammates just didn’t screw around with. While he was never the rah-rah type, as he led by example, and his weight-room sessions were the stuff of tall-tales on campus. He’s a complete beast.

    I’m ecstatic he slid to the Steelers, and I think by the end of next season the teams who passed on him are going to be already regretting their decision. Pouncey and DeCastro will be the anchors of the Steelers O-line for the next decade.

    DK: Great stuff. Thank you for that.

  9. pattonbb says:

    Enjoy the time off DK. Buccos will be one game over .500 by the time you return.

    The coffee cup is always half full!

  10. Jandy says:

    Happy vacation, Dejan! I’ll be away most of the day myself, got things to do. Have a great day everyone!

  11. JAL says:

    JAL’s Tom Dooley Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)


    4—Pirates Prospects

    Pirates Offense Taking Strides, but Needs to Step Up

    Weekend Pirates Draft Prospects Preview: 4/27-4/29

  12. JAL says:

    9 The Green Weenie

    Big Country Back In The Show

    Hyzdu Headquarters



    11 CBS Sports

    Pittsburgh at Atlanta Game Preview

    12 Atlanta Journal Constitution

    Next for Braves: Pittsburgh Pirates

  13. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    20 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers Select OG David DeCastro

    A Contrarian View of the David DeCastro Pick

    21 Steelers Depot

    - How The Hell Did That Happen & Who Should The Steelers Thank For The Gift Of DeCastro?

    22 Steelers Gab

    Around the AFC North – What the Steelers Foes Did in Round One

  14. JAL says:


    28 Sky Sports

    Fergie – United going for win

    29 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: Stories you need to read, April 25th 2012

    29 Daily Telegraph

    Soccer taking over the Twitterverse

  15. JAL says:

    Title Song Tom Dooley, Kingston Trio, 1958. The rock era had barely started when a much older genre was revived. Tom Dooley was the first hit of the folk boom that blossomed into the 1960s. Tom Dooley hit number 1 on November 22, 1958, replacing Conway Twitty’s It’s Only Make Believe which retook the top spot a week later. The Kingston set their music records in album sales with 19 albums that made Billboard’s top 100 and 4 that reached number 1 on the album charts. In 1961 the Kingston trio was responsible for 15% of Capitol’s music income.

  16. Milo Hamilton says:


    So you’re saying you’ve been working 24/7 ? Hmm.

  17. montyb says:

    The Ravens’ Haloti Ngata was on my mind as the picks kept getting closer and closer to #24. It made for some great drama in my living room. Never thought DeCastro would be there by the Steelers pick.

    DK, nice article on Pedro & Ritchie. It was great to see Pedro hit 2 HR’s on Wednesday, but ever better to see him hit the 389 mark in LC twice (1 FO, 1 2B). The ball really jumps off his bat.

    DK: Thanks, Monty.

  18. TJA says:

    Enjoy your time off, Dejan. Enjoy time with the family.

  19. Drew71 says:

    Don’t be so hard on yourself, Dejan. It’s not such a big head. Just seems that way. Cause you draw attention to it by combing your hair with a shovel.

    (I was traveling for two weeks and first post back, i have to start with THAT?? I’m just a bad bad bad man.)

    DK: Indeed.

  20. Naterosboro says:

    Starting my way thru the column this morn, and I get to this gem:

    “Neil Walker doesn’t have an extra-base hit. He bats cleanup.”

    Brilliance, DK.

    Being a glass half full guy, that means we’re kinda due for some sort of offensive explosion. Let’s hope it isn’t offensive to the eye much longer. And that the pitching continues to dazzle…

    Let’s hope.


    A Pirate Fan :)

  21. JohninOshkosh says:

    Always a sense of ease knowing that I can now ignore Mel Kiper for 364 more days. Forced to watch him if I wanted to watch the first round, but now am liberated from his pomposity because I will follow the next rounds exclusively via the Jobs/Gates playground.

  22. MarkV says:

    How are you taking a week off when April 30 is this coming Monday? Sounds more like the weekend off.

    DK: Argh. Will fix. Thanks!

  23. RobertoForever says:

    Enjoy the vacation. You’ve earned it.

    Just curious, did you have this vacation planned for these days? If so, maybe you were the Pens jinx, lol :-)

  24. Dumbledore says:

    Maybe now a Bucco pitcher will be able to throw a no-hitter without it being jinxed this week. Please don’t step on the foul line as you leave for vacation.

  25. The Game says:


    Why cant we open mulitple windows or tabs on the new website? This is very annoying. Hopefully, this will be addressed soon!

    DK: There’s no way that has anything to do with the site.

  26. Dan1283 says:

    Wow, 3 corrections in one blog post! I’m reminded of those PSA’s on TV, Dejan.

    “Buzzed Blogging IS Drunk Blogging”


  27. pgherinfl - Carl says:

    Great article on Pedro. Enjoy your well deserved vacation. We’ll all miss you!!!

  28. CWalton_67 says:

    Thanks for tweeting me the link, Dejan. Very much appreciated. The Trib site is struggling nearly as hard as the Bucs bats…

    Enjoyed your column this morning. I honestly hope Pedro gets it right. Not just for the team’s sake but for his own. All reports indicate he’s a nice kid with a pretty good work ethic, the winter ball controversy notwithstanding. If he could get going, it might inspire some confidence in the rest of the team, who also seem like a very good bunch. Just not terribly talented.

    If someone could just teach Pedro how to wear his hat, that might be a good start.

    Just heard that MAF gave up three more goals, and PaulMart fell down on two of them. Wait, what? The Pens aren’t playing? Could swear I can still hear goals banging of the center pipe behind Fleury…

  29. Drew71 says:

    Wait. I just figured it out.

    I return. You leave.

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