For the second year in a row, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ draft class skewed heavily, at least at the top, toward the offensive side of the ball. At least this year, they fit a defensive player into the second day of the draft, using their third-round selection on Texas A&M defensive end DeMarvin Leal, who joins the most experienced position group on the depth chart.
Listed at 6’4”, 280 pounds, Leal is an interesting athletic prospect that the Steelers will likely want to get into the lab before making a final decision about at what weight exactly they want him to play. As general manager Kevin Colbert told Pat Kirwan and Jim Miller on SiriusXM recently, however, it was his athletic ability, certainly, that caught their attention.
“DeMarvin’s a very athletic guy. He’s got some linebacker-type movements”, he said. “I believe that Texas A&M, they kept him in a little lighter weight because they rushed him from the outside in the defensive end positions in their even front. He was athletic enough to handle that”.
During his final year at Texas A&M, Leal recorded 58 total tackles, among them 12.5 for loss, in addition to 8.5 sacks, which speaks to his ability to be explosive and disruptive around the line of scrimmage, not just in the passing game, but against the run, as well.
“Some of the sacks came from the outside. Some, of course, came from the inside. But that ability to move up and down the line was attractive”, Colbert told his hosts. “We think he can get a little bigger. We think he can get a little stronger.
“He’ll be an end in our base defense, he’ll be a tackle in the sub-package”, he went on. “He won’t be an edge rusher for us, but his athleticism, I don’t think, will be hurt by adding a little more muscle and strength. We think he can be a really good run defender. He had 12 and a half tackles for loss. You get that kind of production out of a defensive lineman, that stuff’s hard to find, really”.
Leal joins Cameron Heyward leading an experienced group of defensive linemen that is also projected to include Tyson Alualu and Stephon Tuitt, both of whom missed all or most of the 2021 season. Also returning are Chris Wormley, Montravius Adams, and last year’s fifth-round pick, Isaiahh Loudermilk, in addition to Carlos and Khalil Davis and Henry Mondeaux.
Needless to say, it’s a deep group, but also one contingent on things going right—both for the older veterans and the younger players. There’s a lot of talent in that room, but the veterans have to retain their level of play, or show they can come back from injury, while the younger players like Loudermilk and Leal have growing to do.