Entering the 2022 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a number of draft needs they needed to address. Unlike in 2021, where the decreased salary cap caused the team to lean on their rookies early, the Steelers possessed a full allotment of draft picks without any glaring needs on their roster.
With seven total picks, the following positions could be viewed as a priority entering the selection process: quarterback, safety, offensive tackle, pass rusher, wide receiver and even inside linebacker. Those positions, and more, were positions of need to help the black-and-gold get to the next level in 2022. There have been numerous thoughts and debates regarding what the team will do in Round 1 of the NFL Draft.
Friday night the Steelers selected Kenny Pickett with the 20th overall pick out of the University of Pittsburgh, so the need at quarterback was off the board. With their first pick on Day 2, the Steelers took George Pickens, wide receiver from Georgia, which took the pass catcher off the team need list.
On Day 2, Round 3, when the dust settled, the Steelers selected Texas A&M defender DeMarvin Leal, with their third pick in the draft.
The Steelers select DeMarvin Leal, defensive lineman out of Texans A&M— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) April 30, 2022
The move puts Leal with former Aggie teammates Dan Moore Jr. and Buddy Johnson who were selected in the 2021 draft. On top of this, he will a welcome addition to the Steelers’ defensive line which is getting long in the tooth, and a certain amount of uncertainty still swirling around Stephon Tuitt.
For those who want to know more about Pickens, here is what the BTSC Big Board had on the former Texas A&M defender:
Ryland B.: I can see the hype surrounding Leal’s play but I still have some concerns. He has a great combination of size and athleticism, and plays with good strength and power. But despite being a natural fit on the inside, he was used as an edge rusher in 2021, which showcased Leal’s versatility but may postpone his development as an interior defender. His athleticism was evident on the outside, but Leal lacks the requisite burst and bend necessary to play the position at the NFL. He also seems to play a bit high which may result in him losing the leverage battle at first in the pros. Despite some issues regarding his technique and position, Leal has plenty of football smarts. As already mentioned, he’s a versatile player, but also a sure tackler who is extremely effective and disciplined against the run. His pass-rush isn’t on the same level, but Leal plays with choppy hands and a good motor. In the end, Leal is a certain early-round prospect who may be a bit of a project, but he has elite upside as a defensive lineman.
For a scouting report on Pickens, here is an in-depth analysis per NFL.com:
Early entry defensive lineman who appears to be caught between “best fit” positions at this time. Leal possesses adequate rush skills and knows how to craft a rush plan, but a lack of suddenness and closing burst turns potential sacks into hurries without the help of a long pocket count. When the motor is cranked up, he can stack and slide past run blockers with efficiency and quickness. He didn’t put together the tape that was expected and disappointing reps against Evan Neal (Alabama) and Charles Cross (Mississippi State) could create concerns about his pro readiness. Most will see him as an even-front defender in some capacity, but playing 3-4 DE might be his best fit as a pro.
- Lands hands quickly with initial strike.
- Hands and feet work well together.
- Efficient in punching and sliding around the block at point of attack.
- Treats staggered blocks in his direction like a bag drill.
- Hips and shoulder-turn to entice whiffed blocks.
- Uses one-arm press to lift and separate.
- Rushes with a plan.
- Ability to toggle between finesse and power.
- Times counters according to blocker’s weight distribution.
- Spin counter is quick and well-balanced.
- Lacks clear-cut position fit.
- Below-average contain quickness and range as a DE.
- Late getting lateral versus zone blocks.
- Average knockback pop as interior defender.
- Pass rush lacks suddenness to put blocker in a bind.
- Disappointing acceleration as looper on tackle/end twists.
- Gradual closing burst turns would-be sacks into hurries.
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For more information on the Steelers’ 3rd round pick of Leal, check out the Breaking News podcast in the player below: