The Pittsburgh Steelers made a lot of moves this off-season. One move that isn’t being talked about enough is the team drafting DL DeMarvin Leal in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The Steelers had an impressive off-season in order to put together a stellar defense to make the job easier for whoever is under center for the team in the 2022 season.
The Steelers’ set of off-season moves created some momentum for the team, until it dwindled away ever so quickly once the retirement of DL Stephon Tuitt was officially announced. However, the team could have already been preparing for such seeing as they spent their third round pick on a promising defensive lineman in Leal.
The organization quickly countered Tuitt’s retirement with the signing of veteran DL Larry Ogunjobi. However, Ogunjobi does come with some injury concerns. When free agency opened, the Chicago Bears originally signed Ogunjobi to a three-year, $40.5 million deal, but the deal fail through after he failed his physical. Ogunjobi has stated that he’d be ready for training camp, but reports are out that he hasn’t been practicing in team periods yet. Does that open the door for Leal to gain some traction and move up the depth chart?
In a recent article published by NFL.com, NFL analyst Bucky Brooks named off 11 rookies that he just can’t wait to watch during training camp and the preseason. Leal was the 2nd rookie listed on Brook’s list on the defensive side of the ball.
“The ultra-talented Leal could enjoy a banner rookie season in a defense that will enable him to play fast and free at the line of scrimmage,” Brooks stated in the article. “The 6-foot-4, 290-pounder is a long, rangy interior defender with the strength and athleticism to drive guards and tackles crazy at the point of attack. As a fluid mover with solid instincts, Leal could flourish on a front that features Cam Heyward and reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt. If Leal quickly grasps the concepts and techniques preached by defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, the third-round pick could become a problem for opponents attempting to attack the middle of the Steelers’ defense.”
Brooks isn’t the only person excited about Leal coming into this season. Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin spoke about Leal right after the team ran their pick to the podium.
“We had a very nice grade on him, and the fact that he was sitting there really surprised all of us,” Austin said during his press conference. “So, I think it was a no brainer for us to choose him.”
It seems to be a perfect match because Leal voiced his excitement for joining the team earlier this off-season in an interview with Steelers’ reporter Missi Matthews.
“I wanted to come here, so it was a no brainer when I got that call from Pittsburgh,” Leal said. “So, I was more waiting on it this time. So, it was just all God’s timing as well. So I was blessed when I first got it.” When asked why he wanted to come to Pittsburgh he answered. “Coach Dunbar. He’s a fantastic coach and he has ties with my defense line coach at A and M as well. When we first met, it was just automatically clicked.”
Leal has a chance to come in and earn some playing time during training camp and the preseason, especially with Ogunjobi not being a full participant in team periods during camp practices right now. Leal could throw his name into the ring of a rotation of players trying to fill the void left by the retirement of Tuitt.