In each of the past five seasons, the Pittsburgh Steelers have led the league in sacks, surpassing the 50 or more mark in each of those years. Within this year’s draft, Pittsburgh elected to select defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal from Texas A&M in the third round, who now also figures to factor in as a pass-rushing threat moving forward.
As an Aggie, Leal registered 13 sacks over three seasons and tied for the team lead last season with nine – tying Pittsburgh UDFA signing Tyree Johnson. Leal also collected the second-most total pressures for Texas A&M last season with 37.
For his career, Leal left College Station with 86 total pressures, accompanied by a 13.6% win rate and 9.4% overall pressure rate. Let’s dig a little further though in terms of when and how Leal was able to cause those pressures, including sacks.
In looking at the numbers below, Leal remains consistent in terms of win rate % by quarter against his blocking matchups, with the fourth quarter being his highest rate. What tends to fall off however is his pressure rate % in the second half of games.
Over the course of his career in college, Leal closed the first halves of games well, but struggled relative to his overall numbers immediately after the halftime break rushing the passer.
Leal also seems to excel on early downs rushing the passer, as the numbers show he’s sacked the quarterback most often on first and second down.
During Leal’s three seasons at Texas A&M, the Aggies had 380 pass rushing snaps overall on third down, accounting for 40 sacks. They were successful in getting to the QB, but it wasn’t necessarily Leal who was credited in bringing down the passer.
There could be a variety of reasons as to why Leal didn’t gather as many sacks on third down. Simple answer is other defenders got to the passer before Leal was able to.
In digging a bit further, over the past three seasons, Texas A&M used stunts at a high rate on third down, and were successful in using them.
Leal was used frequently on those third down stunts and created a high rate of pressure. So, even though Leal wasn’t getting the sacks on the money down, his performance was indeed impactful, despite what the personal sack totals dictate.
Overall, Leal will become another piece to the Steelers’ pass rushing prowess, as he looks to become part of the continued success in Pittsburgh by helping add to the sack totals. Whether that’s earning a sack or creating pressure.