David DeCastro to IR, Steelers Sign DeMarcus Van Dyke

Just yesterday Steel Curtain Rising opined that the Steelers were acting wisely in delaying their decision to put David DeCastro on the IR list.

The logic was that prudence was warranted, there was no need to hurry to put DeCastro on IR, lest a higher-value starter were to get injured. And besides, no one was going to sign Trai Essex, and by signing him after the Broncos game, the Steelers would avoid being on the hook for his salary for the entire year.

The Steelers did put David DeCastro on the injured reserve list today, and they did it because they signed another player. Except it wasn’t Essex.

The Steelers signed DeMarcus Van Dyke Friday, who had been cut earlier in the week by the Oakland Raiders.

The Raiders drafted Van Dyke in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft, making him the 81st player overall taken. To put that into context that’s 14 picks higher than Curtis Brown and 47 picks higher than Cortez Allen, the Steelers 3rd and 4th round picks for the 2011 NFL Draft.

Van Dyke played in 12 games for the Raiders last year, starting in 4 contests on the NFL’s 27th ranked pass defense. Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle discussed Van Dyke’s fall from grace:

Van Dyke, drafted in what was a bit of a reach in the third round last year, played in 14 games with four starts, recording 13 tackles, four passes defended and one interception. He was the fastest player at the NFL combine, running a 4.28 40-yard dash. 

He played well the first two weeks of training camp, routinely breaking up pass plays, but struggled once the preseason games started. Against Arizona, he got beaten twice on deep passes and missed a tackle on a running play that resulted in a touchdown.

Lake Reclamation Project?

Van Dyke raw athletic talent is evident. The Raiders have been cleaning house in the secondary, and one must wonder if they gave up on him too soon, even if they discovered he was a reach.

A year ago there was another third round corner who’d done little to justify his high draft status. He’d been written off as a little more than a place holder on a unit that was unquestionably a team’s weak link.

The player was Keenan Lewis, the Steelers third round pick from 2009 NFL Draft. History said it was past now or never time for Lewis, but Carnell Lake wasn’t buying into any of it.

Carnell Lake worked with Lewis individually. Lewis improved dramatically, notching the game-sealing interception vs. Kansas City last year, and will start for the Steelers Sunday vs. the Broncos.

Will DeMarcus Van Dyke benefit similarly from the “Lake Effect?” Time will tell.

But if he doesn’t, it won’t be for lack of quality coaching.

Essex to Return Anyway?

Just because Van Dyke is here does not mean that Essex won’t be back. Behind their starting front five, the Steelers only have Mike Adams, Doug Legursky, and Kelvin Beachum.

Expect another roster move next week to clear space for Trai Essex to return.

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