Leave it to the man from Toronto to make the NHL-NFL Draft comparisons. Next thing we know, we'll have a Jadeveon Clowney vs. Connor McDavid tale of the tape.
1 CB Vernon Hargreaves Florida 5-10 204
2 DT Austin Johnson Penn State 6-4 314
3 SS Jeremy Cash Duke 6-0 212
4 LB Jaylon Smith Notre Dame 6-2 223
6 WR Moritz Boehringer Germany 6-4 227
7 OT Brandon Shell South Carolina 6-5 324
7 RB Tre Madden USC 6-0 223
DE David Onyemata, LB Ian Seau, FS Jordan Lomax, CB DeAndre Elliott,
QB Jeff Driskel, TE David Morgan, OG Spencer Drango, OC Mike Matthews
2015 MNF Executive Champion!
Most Improved for 2013: David DeCastro tops offensive linemen
By Bucky Brooks
Analyst, NFL.com and NFL Network
Published: July 2, 2013
It happens every fall. A player bursts onto the scene, makes a big play or helps his team win a pivotal game, and the collective football world celebrates his arrival as a true difference maker in the NFL. Let's get ahead of the curve! In advance of the 2013 season, NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks identifies candidates for significant improvement, concentrating on offensive linemen below. Click here for other positions.
DeCastro's backstory: The Pittsburgh Steelers attempted to address their annual offensive-line woes by selecting DeCastro with the 24th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. At the time, the transaction was lauded as a brilliant move, based on the prevailing opinion that DeCastro was the best offensive guard in the draft. While a preseason knee injury prevented DeCastro from contributing in the first three months of his rookie season, he worked diligently to make it back to the starting lineup for Pittsburgh's last three games. Most importantly, DeCastro displayed the toughness and physicality to deal with the feisty defenses in the AFC North.
Why he will improve in 2013: Most NFL players make the biggest strides in development during the offseason between Years 1 and 2. Part of the growth stems from a better understanding of the tempo and intensity of the pro game. Through valuable game experience, young players develop the instincts and awareness to excel.
In DeCastro's case, the epiphany occurred during a three-game run at the end of the regular season when he logged significant playing time as a starter. The 2012 first-rounder dominated at the point of attack, displaying the strength and power to move defenders off the ball. Additionally, DeCastro showed the balance, body control and lateral quickness to handle skilled pass rushers in isolated matchups. DeCastro frequently won on quick sets in pass protection, with his accurate strikes stopping rushers dead in their tracks. Overall, DeCastro's combination of sound technique, footwork and fundamentals solidified the Steelers' interior offensive line, leading to more efficient play from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Given the positive reviews already surrounding DeCastro, it is easy to envision him blossoming into a Pro Bowl-caliber player this season. Of course, this is a lofty expectation for a player with only three career starts under his belt, but Pittsburgh's implementation of a zone-based blocking scheme should accentuate DeCastro's skills as an athletic blocker at the point of attack. As a collegian at Stanford, DeCastro did an outstanding job blocking on the move, while also displaying the strength and power to blow defenders off the ball. Those traits are critical to establishing a physical running game -- something that has been lacking in Pittsburgh over the past few seasons.
Impact on the team: DeCastro's emergence as a dominant force on the interior gives the Steelers one of the most athletic offensive lines in the NFL. With C Maurkice Pouncey, LT Mike Adams, RT Marcus Gilbert LG Ramon Foster and DeCastro starting to form a cohesive unit, the Steelers' once-maligned front line could help Pittsburgh reach the 10-win mark in 2013.
that is an overly enthusiastic review of DDs 3 games at the end of the season.
he struggled mightily at times.
Agreed. G. Atkins made DeCastro his bitch for a good part of that game (then again, Atkins made a lot of OL his bitch last season)....
But I will add that I agree with the article claiming DD will be most improved in '13 and it will work wonders for the run game.
Updated: August 17, 2013
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier wasn't happy with his team's offensive showing on Saturday. Then again, it's usually difficult to move the ball against Gamecocks All-American Jadeveon Clowney.
The South Carolina junior defensive end had two sacks -- at least two other potential sacks were credited as incompletions -- in the two-hour workout at Williams-Brice Stadium, a week after sitting out a scrimmage with a bruised shoulder. He also came in virtually untouched on several other plays to pressure Gamecock quarterbacks Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson.
"We act like we didn't even try to block Clowney today," Spurrier said. "Maybe we're afraid to block him, I don't know. Hopefully, he's that good but I've seen other people block him. He doesn't get to the quarterback every play like he did today just about."
And that was just in two, short series before the 6-foot-6, 274-pound Clowney watched the rest of the sessions from the sidelines.
Earlier Saturday, the Gamecocks were picked sixth in the AP preseason Top 25, their highest ranking in history to start the season.
"That's flattering," Spurrier said. "I don't know if we can live up to it or not, but we'll try, though."
The Gamecocks will have to get their offense going if they hope to build on the first back-to-back 11-2 seasons in school history.
Shaw, the senior starter, finished just 2 of 6 passing for 25 yards and an interception. He walked off the field shaking his right, throwing hand after the pick by freshman cornerback Jamari Smith. Shaw went to the locker room to get it looked at, then returned with ice on his right hand.
Spurrier said it was a bruised thumb and did not think it was anything serious. Shaw is coming off foot surgery last January that kept him out of spring workouts.
Thompson, Shaw's backup, was 3 for 8 for 47 yards. The offense's only passing touchdown came with freshman Brendan Nosovitch under center on a 10-yard pass to receiver Pharoh Cooper. That came after Nosovitch and Cooper hooked up on a 35-yard pass play.
Sophomore Mike Davis led the rushers with 53 yards on four carries. Freshman David Williams had the only other touchdown in 12 series with a 1-yard run.
South Carolina's five quarterbacks combined to go 16 of 37 for 180 yards with two interceptions and the one TD. The group, though, continued to compete without two of the team's top receivers from last year in Bruce Ellington and tight end Rory Anderson, both with hamstring problems.
Spurrier was encouraged by his offense a week ago. But that was with Clowney on the sidelines nursing a bruised shoulder. Clowney missed Monday's practice, too, drawing some pointed comments from Spurrier about how if the injury didn't come around soon, he might keep his star lineman and reigning Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year on the sidelines when the Gamecocks open against North Carolina on Aug. 29.
Clowney returned to the field Tuesday and looked his disruptive self at the scrimmage.
"Hopefully, he's going to make it tough for everybody," South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said. "Jadeveon is a special athlete. We talk about him all the time, but he deserves all the praise he gets because he's a really good football player."
Spurrier did not make Clowney available to media afterward, although the good-natured player shouted to teammates given extra running, "Hey, I love to see that. All you fat boys" working out.
Clowney has been one of college football's most talked-about athletes since his last game at the Outback Bowl, when he popped the helmet off Michigan runner Vincent Smith in South Carolina's 33-28 New Year's Day victory. The hit won an ESPY for year's best play and the hype hasn't slowed down as the season draws closer.
Spurrier says much of Clowney's success Saturday was due to the Gamecocks "soft" offensive line. Davis, the Gamecocks tailback, thinks the sacks given up today will help the linemen when the games start.
"Clowney is a freak of nature," Davis said. "So going against him and the defensive line we have is only make those guys better."