Maybe it was just the post-draft giddiness, but Steelers GM Kevin Colbert revealed some—but not all—of the Steelers' thinking on first-round pick David DeCastro leading up to and during the first night of the draft.
Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin gushed about DeCastro during a press conference transcribed by the website Steelers Depot. Combined, they used the word "excited" four times to describe how they felt about taking him.
Colbert said he was "everything you could ask for in a player," and Tomlin said there was "no guesswork" in DeCastro's evaluation.
Furthering the idea that the Steelers do tip off genuine interest with visits and trips to pro days, Colbert talked about how he and offensive line coach Sean Kugler went to Stanford's pro day. Colbert said DeCastro did so well that they "didn't think there was any way" they would get a shot to draft him.
So did Colbert try to trade up for DeCastro as he was falling down the board in the first?
Colbert did divulge that the Steelers had a list of several players they would trade up to get, and DeCastro was on that list. While this indicates the strong possibility that the Steelers were on the phone trying to acquire an earlier pick to take DeCastro, Colbert also said that the team would have been happy to draft three or four players at No. 24, and that a "nice group" and "better group" than they expected was available at the pick.
Colbert would not confirm that New England LB Dont'a Hightower was one of the three or four, but strong pre-draft buzz linking the teams would seem to ensure that he was. The other one or two targets of the Steelers are harder to guess, but OG Kevin Zeitler, taken by the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 27 and DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw, taken by the Ravens at No. 25, are good possibilities.
Interestingly, Colbert foreshadowed the selection of OT Mike Adams in the second round (this interview took place on the night of the first round), saying that the selection of DeCastro did not preclude an offensive lineman being taken with the team's next pick.
When pressed on the question of whether the Steelers actually tried to trade up for DeCastro, Colbert would only say that he would "leave that to the imagination" and reiterated that DeCastro was on the list of players that they would entertain the idea of trading up for during the draft.
When you have as many glowing things as the Steelers brass had to say about DeCastro ("unquestioned leader," "great football character," "special," "exceptional," "all business," "clearly the guy" and on and on), the smart money is on the team frantically but unsuccessfully trying to deal up for him and being profoundly relieved—and yes, excited—when he fell to them anyway.