It's hard to believe this column is already two months old, and it's even harder to believe that we've already identified three of the four quarterbacks who could enter the 2012 Draft (with the exception of Andrew Luck Skywalker. I am not sure if there's even a reason to profile him at this point). Now that we have most of the QB prospect dirty work out of the way, it makes sense to take a step back and continue examing the guys who are good enough to be first-round picks, but might still be on the board when Miami's second-round pick comes around (see: the very beginning of that round. Aargh).
When a team picks early in the second round, it has an opportunity to make a very high value selection. If you draft wisely in this area, you can end up with a franchise-caliber player like DeMeco Ryans, Eric Weddle, LaMarr Woodley, Brandon Flowers, Louis Delmas, Patrick Chung, Rodger Saffold, T.J. Ward, etc. Draft unwisely, however, and you could end up with Chad Jackson or Philip Merling. And when you're in the Dolphins' current state, missing on an early second-round pick is essentially the kiss of death.
Miami needs to find a boatload of impact players next April, and since I am feeling particularly aggressive tonight (probably because I just watched Road House on AMC), we'll start with the prospect who could stop the bleeding on the left side of our offensive line in a hurry.
David DeCastro, G Stanford
A big reason why Andrew Luck is able to do the things he does at Stanford
Lost somewhere within the Luck hype (bullet) train is the fact that he has two elite college linemen protecting him: left tackle Jonathan Martin and guard David DeCastro. Martin's size, prototypical strength and outrageously sound footwork will make him a hot commodity next offseason, but DeCastro is as good a collegiate guard as I have ever seen. An absolute bulldozer (6'4 1/2", 315) of a human with great power, footwork and instincts, DeCastro lines up at right guard for Stanford, but has the size and skill set to play anywhere along the interior. He also boasts a ruthless disposition and backs down from no defensive lineman in his way. This is not a guard who will play nice with opponents at the next level, and would be an absolute terror if lined up between Jake Long and Mike Pouncey.
Speaking of Pouncey ...
Not to feed the "Pouncey should be playing guard" theorists here (No. 51 is a rare talent at center anyway), but DeCastro's style of play is very similar to Pouncey's. DeCastro is a bit shorter and heavier than the Dolphins' rookie center, but both players are very strong run blockers, have the athleticism to rip into the second level of defense in a hurry, and can pull like the dickens (it's quite a sight to see DeCastro swing around the Stanford offensive line, looking to destroy the first defender he meets). However, to simply call DeCastro a road grader would be selling him short, because he's just as good in pass pro and routinely stands up his man at the point of attack. The rare ability to be equally effective in run and pass blocking makes DeCastro a candidate to dominate at left guard in the pros, but he could also stay at right guard and play at a level that very, very few right guards are capable of achieving in the NFL. DeCastro's ability to keep his hands active and fight off defenders while run blocking is as good as it gets for a college guard, too.
Weaknesses are present, but hardly a concern
DeCastro will get pushed back by his assignment sometimes, and can whiff on a block at times while pulling. These flaws, however, don't surface in DeCastro's game very often, and his tape suggests that he learns very quickly from mistakes. Case in point: DeCastro, a good downfield blocker in 2010, has been an absolute juggermaut while blocking downfield this season. His foot speed has improved from last season, as well. And though you wouldn't know it by the picture above, DeCastro does a great job of staying off the ground (thanks to the fact he's lunging far less this season).
Verdict: It goes without saying that DeCastro should be able to come into the NFL and play at a high level right away. In fact, DeCastro plays like a more athletic version of Vikings Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson, and that detail alone will make DeCastro a no-brainer selection if he somehow slips to the Dolphins in the second round.