DeMarvin Leal was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 84th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Here’s what was being said about Leal before the Steelers drafted him in the third round.
Keith Sanchez for The Draft Network
Leal plays as both an IDL and an edge player. On the interior, he has an exceptional first step that allows him to quickly get into gaps and get backfield penetration. Displays very fluid hips in his ability to get upfield and redirect based on which way the ball-carrier goes.
As an edge player, he is inconsistent in his ability to get off the ball quick enough for him to get that leverage on offensive linemen and dictate the play. Needs to improve on his effort rushing the passer. When his initial pass rush move doesn’t work, he, at times, stops working to the QB and stalls at the line of scrimmage.
Leal has rare athleticism and power that allows him to play all over the field and be an effective player.
Second Round Value
Natalie Miller for Draft Wire
Leal plays with excellent strength, using push-and-pull techniques to move bigger lineman into the backfield or clear the outside edge to contain/pursue. That power is the high point of his game, as he’s often able to use one arm to separate from blockers before closing in on the ball carrier. He routinely punishes opponents who are late off the snap by putting them on the ground.
A bit of a “tweener,” Leal will need to find the right fit in the NFL, as he will likely not be explosive enough to play a typical edge role. He’ll need to play inside in any scheme and learn the nuances of playing there at the next level.
Given his athletic traits and overall talent, it was a bit alarming that Leal did not have top-tier production and didn’t jump off the tape more often when watching the Aggies’ defense. He’ll need to play with more consistency and maximize those impressive physical tools if he wants to realize his lofty potential in the NFL.
Saivon Mixson for Last Word on Sports
Leal showed comfortability at every spot on the defensive line. He is strong as an ox, yes. However, Leal’s best attribute in college was his ability to force the offense to stay away from either his edge or gap assignment. In the Alabama game this past season, Leal was seen either unblocked on the backside or stymied by a double-team with a chip for a majority of the game. Even with that, he still found a way to get in on six assisted tackles and seven total tackles.
He has to work on his ability to disengage from blockers. DeMarvin Leal engaged with offensive linemen for too long, allowing them to re-direct him. Also, he has to start coming to the line with a rush plan. At times he found himself to be lost when his initial move did not work, which caused him to have to throw up a hand as a last resort.
An aspect of Leal’s game that was truly enjoyable was seeing his production from year to year. Expect Leal to continue to get better at the next level as he continues to carve out his role on a defensive line.
Nick Lammatina for The NFL Draft Bible
Leal was moved all over the defensive line in 2020 for the Aggies defense, which hints at one of his biggest strengths, versatility. His size suggests he will move to an interior role on the defensive line, but he has shown to be proficient in every technique.
Isn’t the fastest or most dynamic pass rusher. Struggles to get home on a lot of his pressures because of his lack of quickness in and around the pocket. Wasn’t asked to rush the outside shoulder from the base end position and didn’t have much bend when he did. Will probably need to further develop his rush moves to make himself less predictable.
DeMarvin Leal is a premiere defensive lineman in this class because of his power up front and versatility. Teams will be able to move him around the line based on their thresholds and mold him into the player of their desired role.
Ryland B. for Behind the Steel Curtain
He has a great combination of size and athleticism and plays with good strength and power. Leal has plenty of football smarts. . . 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.
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. Leal lacks the requisite burst and bend necessary to play edge in the NFL. He also seems to play a bit high which may result in him losing the leverage battle at first in the pros.
In the end, Leal is a certain first round prospect who may be a bit of a project, but he has elite upside as a defensive lineman.
Before the combine, DeMarvin Leal was considered one of the elite defensive line prospects of the 2022 NFL Draft. At the combine he showed speed and agility, but scored lower in power-based events and his 283 lb. weight brought up questions on his ability to play inside.
As you can read above, he was considered an elite interior defensive lineman that was out of position on the edge. With his lower weight and less impressive jumping, teams questioned if he can be that player he showed on tape in 2019 and 2020 in the NFL.
The Steelers are in position to give Leal opportunity to showcase his abilities, but also take time if he needs it to build NFL strength and refine his pass rush without having to start or carry a heavy load in snaps. Hopefully it works out for DeMarvin Leal like it did for LaMarr Woodley, who played sparingly in his rookie season while showing lots of potential, and then took off in 2008 and was a dominant defender for years.