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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.

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