The 2022 NFL Draft is incredibly deep on the defensive side of the ball. The linebacker, EDGE, and defensive line groups are all deep and talented. There is also an impressively diverse set of players available in this year’s draft class.
There will be players available all across the defensive front who can fit any position in any defensive scheme. There are also some players with the versatility to play a wide variety of positions on a modern defense. One of the best of them is DeMarvin Leal out of Texas A&M.
Leal has been one of the most highly regarded defensive line prospects throughout the 2021 season and the 2022 draft process, and for good reason. He has good size, he’s athletic, and was highly disruptive from all over the Aggies’ front last year.
The Giants will likely run a very “multiple” defense under Wink Martindale. Could Leal’s versatility appeal to the Giants?
Games Played: 33
Tackles For a loss: 25.0
Forced Fumbles: 2
Passes Defensed: 5
Games Played: 11
Tackles For a loss: 12.5
Forced Fumbles: 1
Passes Defensed: 2
Best: Initial quickness, lower body strength, agility, versatility
Worst: Hand and leverage consistency
Projection: A starting defensive tackle for an aggressive 1-gap defense.
(Leal is defensive lineman number 8)
Texas A&M’s DeMarvin Leal is a quick, athletic, powerful and versatile defensive tackle prospect.
Leal possesses a versatile frame at 6-foot 3 ⅞ inches, 283 pounds. His height and thick lower body give him natural leverage and play strength, and he has enough athleticism to play a variety of positions in a defensive front. Leal played out of every conceivable alignment on Texas A&M’s defensive line, from 0-technique nose tackle, to wide-9 defensive end, to rush linebacker from a two-point stance.
Leal has good lower-body flexibility to settle into a compact stance, which he fires out of with good leverage. He generally keys the ball well, with solid initial quickness making for a good get-off for an interior defensive lineman. Leal generally plays with good leverage throughout the rep, using low hips and pads to maximize his play strength. Combined with his initial quickness, Leal possesses a formidable bullrush that allows him to walk linemen back into quarterbacks, or split gaps to disrupt in the backfield.
Leal also has solid lateral agility and flashes the ability to win with speed up the middle and occasionally off the edge as well. He also flashes a promising array of pass rush moves to counter his bull rush, including a push-pull move and a club-rip. His agility also makes him useful on stunts or twists, occasionally looping from the nose tackle position all the way out to the edge.
Leal is a disciplined run defender who plays with good gap discipline, wasting little time diagnosing and committing to his run defense. He has the strength to hold blocks and make opportunities for his teammates, or to shed and make plays off of blockers on his own.
He plays with fantastic competitive toughness, giving great effort throughout the game. Leal is quick to get into pursuit and is willing to pursue ball carriers through the echo of the whistle. He is completely willing to fight through waves of blockers and has succeeded on extended plays that require second or third efforts.
Leal can also be a frustratingly inconsistent player. Part of that is due to just how many ways in which Texas A&M used him and inconsistencies in how he performed at the various positions. Leal has good quickness and agility for a defensive tackle, but he can be lacking when trying to win with speed off the edge. Likewise, he seems to key the snap much better as an interior rusher than as an edge defender. Leal is noticeably quicker off the snap when rushing from the interior, which makes him that much more effective.
Leal can also stand to be more effective in his hand usage at the NFL level. He can get hung up on blockers if his initial rush fails, particularly if he isn’t able to keep blockers from getting into his chest plate.
Overall Grade: 8.0
DeMarvin Leal projects as a starting defensive tackle in an attacking 1-gap defense. He has the versatility to play a variety of specific alignments and in both 3 and 4-man fronts.
Leal should be a disruptive player as a 3, 4i, or 5-technique at the NFL level, and could even be an effective 0 or 1-technique in certain situations. He is a disruptive pass rusher on the interior, and he has enough run defense ability that he should be trusted on any down or distance.
His versatility should make him an attractive player for particularly creative defensive coordinators. That said, while Texas A&M frequently used him as an EDGE defender, if an NFL team uses him on the edge, it should be more of a wrinkle. Leal appears much more comfortable as an interior lineman, and that should be his bread and butter in the NFL.
Leal isn’t yet a finished product and he lacks the truly elite explosive traits to be a devastating pass rusher in the mold of some undersized iDL we’ve seen enter the NFL over the last decade. However, his versatility and reliability should make him a solid addition to most any defense.