A series of scouting reports on the undrafted free agents the Steelers signed following the 2023 NFL Draft. We’ll start things off with Fresno State EDGE rusher David Perales.
#99 David Perales, EDGE, Fresno State (R-SR) – 6022, 248LBS
East-West Shrine Bowl
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|David Perales||6’2” 248lbs||9 1/4||32 1/8||78 3/4|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Plays his best on third downs with ears pinned back to rush the passer
— Solid bend around the edge
— Primarily operates with speed moves inside and out, though technique lacks polishing
— Consistently gets his hands up to disrupt passing lanes
— Understands gap integrity in the run game and mans his responsibilities
— Quality motor to chase the ball down and to be involved in unusual circumstances
— Showcases leadership traits between the whistles
— Late-season ankle injury impacted his Pro Day drills, which may have impacted his draft stock
— Ran a slow 40-yard dash on a healing ankle at his Pro Day; doesn’t play with great speed in space to begin with
— Needs to develop more active hands and transition moves
— Struggles to convert speed to power
— Lacks a strong initial punch in blocking situations
— Burst varies on non-obvious passing downs
— Level and playing style of competition gives a tough read on his actual body strength in run defense
— Lacks desirable length; undersized but bulky for a speed rusher
— Inconsistent if violent tackler; often arrives too high and grabs at ball carriers leading to too many misses
— Birthday: April 9, 1999 (24 years old)
— Unrecruited out of high school in California
— Began his college career at Merced Community College in 2017 where he tallied 14 sacks before transferring to Sacramento State
— Recorded 2.5 sacks in lone season at Sacramento State in 2018
— Transferred to Fresno State in 2019, sat out for transfer rules
— Started 33 games at Fresno State over three years
— Utilized extra year of eligibility for 2022, 6 years of college football total
— Career Stats at Fresno State: 119 tackles, 38 for a loss including 23 sacks with six pass deflections, an interception and nine forced fumbles with two recoveries.
— 1st-team All-Mountain West in 2022, 2nd-team in 2021 and 2020
— His 11.5 sacks in 2022 were the most by a Bulldog in over 20 years; led the Mountain West and ranked 7th in FBS; four sacks came against San Jose State.
David Perales had a winding journey to the NFL. With one extra year of eligibility thanks to the COVID-19 rules, Perales utilized his 6th-year of college football to full advantage, leading the Mountain West Conference in sacks and putting his name on the NFL’s radar, even if it wasn’t known to everyone in the scouting community.
Perales is a speed rusher who can play with a violent edge. His tool belt is largely unrefined, but his effort stands out on tape as does his execution of what technique he does employ.
In this first clip against Washington State in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl, Perales shows what makes him intriguing enough to land in Pittsburgh as a priority free agent. He always plays his best on third and fourth downs, pinning his ears back, timing the snap and getting a strong burst off the line of scrimmage. He gets such a burst here that the right tackle can’t lay a useful hand on him. Perales bends the edge and tracks down the quarterback. (Far-side edge)
Not that Perales tallied all 11.5 of his sacks in 2022 by winning with pure speed. He did bully some far less talented offensive linemen than he’ll see on Sundays with his motor alone. While he does have some good bend and can utilize some rips, swims and spins, his technique is lacking.
On this play against San Jose – a game in which Perales had four sacks and even more pressures – Perales gets quality depth and a solid angle at the quarterback thanks to a solid burst and a rare effort at transitioning speed to power to get the tackle off balance. However, he fails to transition to a second move to get completely free. He does generate pressure here and moves the quarterback off his spot, but he leaves some meat on the bone like this a bit too often. (Right-side edge)
His hands aren’t the most active and his transitions are lacking. That said, his bend can get him out of a jam. Watch here against Oregon State. He gets stalemated a bit before ripping underneath the tackle to generate pressure and force the quarterback into a scramble drill. (Far-side edge)
Perales isn’t the strongest player on the field, but he’s a tough dude who gives his full effort. I highlight this play because although he’s quite consistent at disrupting passing lanes by getting his hands up even as he’s getting rush depth, this rep is different.
The ankle injury that hindered Perales’s Pro Day performance happened one week before the Mountain West Conference Championship Game. He didn’t miss the game against Boise State, but he was severely limited after tweaking his ankle on his very first play. He logged just one stat in the game, and it was this pass breakup on the next drive after hurting his already-injured ankle. (Far-side edge)
To further highlight his effort and motor that will lend him well as he cuts his teeth on special teams, at the end of the Oregon State game, Perales provided an unrelenting pass rush on nearly every play. Despite this, he’s kept on the field to drop into coverage in the middle of the field. He chases down the play after the pass is completed behind him and attempts to punch the ball out as he arrives showcasing sound situational awareness. Fresno State went on to lose this game, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort on Perales’s part. (Far-side edge)
The run game evaluation for Perales is frustrating across the three full, healthy games I watched. Most of the plays he did make were unblocked. As the weak-side defender, he didn’t often see action come his way and taking into account the pass-happy offenses Fresno State plays, it’s largely incomplete.
Here are back-to-back plays against Oregon State in the first quarter. On the first, Perales comes unblocked on a jet sweep and gets solid penetration to disrupt the play, but he shows some of that grabbiness as a tackler that can get him in trouble. (Near-side edge)
On the next play, Perales takes on the block and gives up his frame but is able to get enough control to spot the ball and take leverage toward his gap. This stutters the back just enough for Perales and his teammate to collapse the play at the line of scrimmage. (Near-side interior lineman)
On the whole, Perales plays with effort in the run game, but it’s unfortunate that his opportunities in the games I watched were limited. He plays with solid chase and doesn’t seem to have a problem locating the football to diagnose the play.
Perales is a somewhat intriguing signing for the Steelers following the draft. While Perales flew pretty far under the radar, I only have an undrafted grade for him because of the ankle that disrupted his Pro Day months after the fact. Outside of that, he plays with high effort and is around the ball enough to overcome the concerns about his size and athletic profile at least partially enough to have been a late-Day 3 option.
But the draft is in the past and all that matters for Perales now is that he’s a Pittsburgh Steeler. The Steelers are getting a player that is made of the right stuff mentally. Perales needed his 6th year after progressively jumping competition levels to have his chance. He’ll have to get in good with Danny Smith in camp to strengthen his chances as he’s not the only member of this rookie class at his position and the edge linebacker room is nearing capacity.
If he can nab a roster spot, he can then work on refining his speed-rusher tools and learn to combine his motor, burst and bend to further overcome the odds that have continuously been stacked against him.
Depot Grade: 5.7 (MED) Undrafted Free Agent
Games Watched: Oregon State ‘22, San Jose State ‘22, Boise State (CCG) ‘22, Washington State ‘22 (Bowl Game)