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A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Dallas Cowboys Potential 2012 Draft Pick: David DeCastro, G, Stanford

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Jonathan Bales

I started off this year’s Potential Draft Picks Series by analyzing Alabama DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw, and many of you might have been surprised to learn I see a borderline second-round talent.  The Cowboys have so many holes on defense, though, that they might value Upshaw’s versatility.

If the organization decides to upgrade the offense, the interior line has to be the top priority.  I personally think the Cowboys should move Doug Free to guard and/or sign Carl Nicks.  Those ideas have both drawn sharp criticism and praise, with a lot of you remarking that you would love to see Dallas draft the feature of this article.

Let me be clear that David DeCastro has been the only guard I have studied in detail this offseason.  I spent a few hours watching as many games of his as I could, though, and I feel I have a very strong grasp on his abilities.  Here is why I believe DeCastro is the top guard prospect of the last five years. . .

Scouting Report

I will admit I had no idea DeCastro was so dominant.  I must have watched 500 plays of his, and I cannot find a major weakness.  DeCastro is 6’5”, 310 pounds with a frame that can add size.  Although he doesn’t have elite strength, he still anchors well and uses superb leverage and hand placement to ward off defenders.  Most draftniks claim he is better as a run blocker than in pass protection, but I think he is equally stout in both phases of the game.

As a run blocker, DeCastro can do it all.  He fires off the ball well and can drive defenders back, yet he still has the agility and quickness to get to the second level.  He can pull, blocking well on counters and tosses.  When he is in the open field, his head is on a swivel in an effort to lay someone out (as at the 3:50 and 7:06 marks in the first video below).  Thus, DeCastro is versatile as a run blocker in that he can play with power or finesse.  That’s a rare trait.

In pass protection, DeCastro uses great footwork and hand placement.  He always maintains a solid base and mirrors defenders well.  If he struggles with something at the next level, it will be mammoth tackles (think the nose in a 3-4).  DeCastro plays intelligently, handling stunts and twists with ease and using defenders’ momentum against them.  He always, always plays to the whistle (3:15 mark above).

DeCastro is not an extraordinary athlete, but it really doesn’t matter.  He’s agile enough to succeed in space, and his mechanics are out of this world.  He rarely gets beat, but he finds a way to recover when it happens.  He played right guard at Stanford, but he will be an All-Pro-type player wherever he lines up.

Projection

DeCastro figures to go near the middle of the first round.  I’ve long discussed why offensive guards are extremely undervalued in the draft, as they are vital to the success of an offense (as you saw in Dallas this season), but the premiere players at the position rarely go in the first half of the first round.  Since the “Moneyball” era of valuing players has crept into the NFL, guards have consistently offered the most bang for the buck.  If Dallas feels Free will regain form with a switch back to right tackle, DeCastro should be their top target.

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21 Responses to Dallas Cowboys Potential 2012 Draft Pick: David DeCastro, G, Stanford

  1. Rick says:

    … but we agree totally here.

  2. Vince_Grey says:

    This is so wrong. All you have to do is look at history. No teams value guards that highly, (Top half of the first round) and the few that have suffered for it, because they got hosed.

    It’s easier and more economical to sign a guard in free agency. You can get a good, solid guy fairly cheap, or you can spend some serious cheese for a 26 year old All Pro (Nicks), but even Nicks would be cheap compared to what an All Pro pass rusher, or AP DB in their mid-20′s would cost as a free agent.

    If guards are so valuable, show me how many games Dallas won after `95 because of Larry Allen. The BEST they could do was 10-6, 3 times, with ONE playoff win. During the height of his dominance, they went 5-11 three straight years.

    Guards DO make a difference, but that’s the difference between bad ones and good ones. The difference between a good solid OG and a HoFer isn’t really that much.

    Top 14 picks should really never include guards, centers, punters, kickers, non-pass rushing DL, and WR’s (Shiny hood ornaments).

  3. Tom H says:

    I know some people will hate the idea of taking an interior OL at #14, and will never be convinced why it’s a good idea, but when a prospect like DeCastro comes along, AND the need is so blatantly obvious for Dallas, it’s just a perfect match. Right now, I do not see another prospect (who will realistically be available at #14) that could step in from day one and help as much as this guy.

    Recent history shows, it is not uncommon to see the top guards and centers start coming off the board in the mid first rd. Exactly where Dallas is picking.
    Last year Mike Pouncey went @ 15, in 2010 Iupati went @17, Maurkice Pouncey @ 18. Hey, if the talent meets the need, there is no reason not to take him. If this guy is as good as Snee, he’d be worth that pick, IMO.

  4. john coleman says:

    I’m probably one of a few, but something still holds me back on this guy. I would not be mad with drafting him, but I would be worried about the bust factor. He would probabaly be very similar to/if not a little better than Kosier, even early in his career.

    For the record- I still believe that dominance upfront is the key to the game period. Modest skill players can play behind a stellar line.

    #14- IS a little high for an OG. Value may be the key. IMO a risky talent pool may make De Castro too safe not to pick. I’m curious too see if the Cowboys scouts value him that high. Also after the top 10, there is a pool from 11-40 who are very similar in talent level(borderline as to 1st or 2nd rdrs).

  5. moses says:

    I think it comes down to supply. Are there prospects that are close in talent/production that you can take in the 3rd/4th Rd?

    Is there someone that is a bigger difference maker at this spot?

    I like the analysis, but the pick will need to consider the strengths of this draft class

  6. Moses makes an awesome point here…I know the majority of you will be about best player available or even best player available at a position of need (which isn’t too far off from my favored draft strategy), but great drafting organizations have a keen sense of what will be available later (and in FA). If you are deciding between a guard and pass-rusher at 14 and there are no starting-quality guards in the 2nd/3rd rounds but an abundance of potential pass-rushers, you take the guard EVEN IF he is slightly lower on your board. The value will be made up later, and you can secure the best OVERALL value by bypassing the BPA at certain points.

  7. Mont Seventeen says:

    Look we know the Romo-lovers have a hidden agenda, so you can’t really take their opinion on Decastro with out a lil grain of salt. Comparing him to centers in previous drafts is the first dead give-away… and Mike Iupoti? If Mike Singletarry drafted Mike Iupoti with the 14th pickn ppl would have a hissy! The second is his bowl performance a few weeks ago, he was average at best and he didn’t do much v. Okst senior DT that benches 500 lbs. who was very active and unphased by Decastro.

    I think Jerry drafting an OG at 14 would be a path to 7-9 next season. What I don’t get from the Romo ppl… If Romo is mobile and escapes pressure, throws well on the run (when he wants to) why spend increasing amounts of the teams resources on the Oline when they have TONS of other needs?

    I guess what I’m saying is if I’m going to have a line that can protect a pocket QB, I want a QB that can stand in there and hit the deep ball late. Sorry but Romo doesn’t have that ability… On plays where Romo gets extended amounts of time in the pocket he usually checks down bc his WRs are out of his reach.

    Drafting a OG maybe needed… But at 14, I hope not but with the way this team has gone over the past 15 years I wouldn’t be shocked.

  8. Mont Seventeen says:

    I guess what I’m saying, we did the Romo-friendly for 5 years, it hasn’t yielded much at all. Time to go in a new direction… If u rebuild the middle of the line at least do it with some road graders for the run game. Those types of OGs can be found all over the draft.

  9. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Many know that I’m very high on DeCastro.

    And, it’s not because he’s an OG and a need. It’s because of his dominance. I challenge anyone to tell me what a Hall of Fame offensive guard looks like pre-draft. Did anyone predict Larry Allen to be THAT dominant? Or Russ Hochstein? Richardson? OG might be the most difficult position to delineate difference between prospects.

    Which is EXACTLY why I think DeCastro should be the Cowboys pick. I have yet to read any scouting report that doesn’t indicated how good this kid is. Many resemble what we all just read above. No weaknesses. Never a lapse. Everyone has good days and bad days but clearly DeCastro was able to be very good even on his bad. DeCastro is a flat out great offensive line prospect and would probably be just as good at C as he is at G.

    Now, when the #14 pick comes with a very predictable (and most important – CHEAP) contract price, drafting an OG this early shouldn’t really be an issue. Waiting until the 2nd round for interior O line is a thing of the past.

    It’s 2012 – Dallas can adjust to the times or watch the future pass by…

  10. Vince_Grey says:

    But what about the DEFENSE Tyrone? Is this awesome guard going to help there? Or help on the other side of the O-line?

    I suppose next year, when we’re drafting in the top 10, because we finished 7-9, because we had no defense and a guard is indeed just a guard, and there’s some superstar center coming out who’s the second coming of Dwight Stephenson, we should take HIM as well? What the heck, let’s just fill the entire O-line with high 1st round picks and see what that get’s us, shall we?

  11. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    VG,

    You make it seem as if adding an OG that can actually block will make the team WORSE. How’s that? Dallas does have 6 other draft picks PLUS free agency still…

    The needs of the team are simple: safety, OG, C, LOLB, CB.

    If any of of the needs above can be selected in the 1st round, then you pick him. If both LOBL, CB, C and CB are all available when the Boys pick (and they will be), then you pick the BEST ONE of them at the time. The reason Dallas is in the situation they are in now (talent depleted) is because they spent years bypassing the best player at a position of need thinking they could always get someone who’s almost as good later…

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  17. David says:

    DeCastro is the smartest pick the Cowboys can make. Instant upgrade to the O-line, running game, recievers have more time to get open, will help keep Romo healthy as well as give him more time in the pocket. This all translates into the defense staying off the field more keeping them better rested. Take defense in the 2nd and 3rd and a center in the 4th.

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  19. Michael Sloan says:

    Romo isn’t as nimble as he used to be. Sure, our offense can score outside the redzone, but I see a real need to be able to score TD’s in the redzone. Romo can scramble around, but we really become one dimensional inside the 10. The problem as I see it is we can’t control the LOS because of a weak offensive line. Last season wasn’t the only time this has been a problem. Seems to be getting worse. 5 rushing TD’s? All season? Simply, our guys can’t beat the defenders in front of them. Will drafting Decastro change this? I know he could help. But is that the right pick? Wouldn’t we be drafting on his potential and if he isn’t as great as we hoped, was it bad value to take him instead of a DE/OLB?

    For all our redzone woes, we still scored and were in position to win many games. Romo played great, as good as I’ve seen him do. He improved. How many times did our defense fail to get a critical stop in the final minutes of the game? Or actually cause a turnover when we needed it? Or collapse the middle pocket, stopping QB’s from being able to step up, avoiding edge pressure and make accurate throws to wide open receivers? We need a defensive lineman that can penetrate the backfield, and disrupt runs and pressure the QB. Do we really need another OLB that can rush the edge? Butler can do that too. I like this Melvin Ingram kid, and I think he could play DE for us. But Ratliff is no longer an option for our NT in the base 3-4. He can’t hold the point of attack nor get enough push up the middle consistently.

    Is there a NT out there anyone sees that could fit our needs? Poe? I ddin’t like what I saw in JB’s report. No way Garrett spends a high pick on a questionable motor and work ethic. He would be drafting for potential much riskier than Decastro. I really don’t like spending a high pick on a hope that they can one day reach this great potential we will be expecting. Would rather be able to pick two solid guys that we know their floor and will work hard and fit our needs and system. Maybe we did that in FA with those two guards I know nothing about.

    The team says they want to be able to draft purely BPA. Seriously? Isn’t that what every team says? Where is Rob Ryan in all this draft talk? Shouldn’t he have some say? I figured last season was his talent evaluation term and he found out he didn’t have a lot, certainly not the “great” players he was boasting on last year. He needs to get pro-active and get in there and get some players. Coleman and Spears aren’t getting it done. I heard Coleman got a pretty good rating. But that must have been between the 1st and 3rd qtrs, because our D stood for Disappeared in the 4th. And Garrett was so high on winning the 4th qtr. He was right to be worried about it. I hope they give Ryan what he needs in the draft. I like Carr, Orton, Connor and Pool signings. Ryan needs to be able to pressure the QB without have to sacrifice coverage or blitzing more people than blockers and still not getting there.

    Ok, rant over. Everyone made great points and and made my life more difficult. Sorry for the long post, I get on a tear sometimes and can’t control it. thanks.

  20. Awesome comment Michael. I agree completely on Poe, as I can’t see the Cowboys buying into that after what we saw Garrett emphasize last year. Hard workers, high character, high motor. Poe doesn’t have at least two of those. DeCastro is the guy I want, but I don’t think he will be available. I have a mock draft coming, and you’ll be surprised who I have going to Dallas.

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