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2022 NFL draft scouting report: Texas A&M DL DeMarvin Leal

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Texas A&M DL DeMarvin Leal

6-foot-4
283 pounds

Yahoo Sports' 2022 NFL draft grade

5.64 — possible third- or fourth-rounder; contributor potential

TL;DR scouting report

Naturally gifted big man with disruptive potential but some underachieving traits, and his positional fit is ripe for debate

The skinny

A 5-star Rivals recruit (No. 10 nationally) in the Class of 2019, Leal chose the Aggies over Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma State and Texas. He started seven of 13 games as a freshman, making 38 tackles (5.5 TFLs) and two sacks. In 2020, Leal started 10 games and totaled 37 tackles (seven TFLs), 2.5 sacks, a 43-yard interception, four passes defended, one forced fumble and one recovery. He started 12 games in 2021, logging 58 tackles (12.5 TFLs), 8.5 sacks, two passes defended and one forced fumble. Leal declared early for the 2022 NFL draft.

Texas A&M defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal (8) gestures towards the crowd in Kyle Filed during the first half of an NCAA college football game against LSU, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020. in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)
Texas A&M defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal (8) gestures towards the crowd in Kyle Filed during the first half of an NCAA college football game against LSU, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020. in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)

Upside

  • Quality length at 6-3 with 33 1/4-inch arms

  • Naturally gifted big man with some surprising little-man skills

  • Shows some short-area burst and quickness

  • Lower-body flexibility is impressive

  • Gets off the line in a jiffy and can stress tackles off the snap

  • Pass-rush feel is natural — stacks moves and flashes an effective spin

  • Heavy hands to help defend the run

  • Good ball awareness to close down passing lanes

  • Keen instincts on display in athletic 2020 interception vs. Alabama

  • Keeps head up when rushing the passer — good awareness

  • Has quickness and pass-rush arsenal to thrive in time as a 3-technique

  • Second-chance rushes get home often on slower-developing plays

  • Solid motor most reps

  • Very good stamina — played nearly 80% of Aggies' snaps in 2021

  • Versatile — played both sides, from nose tackle out to a 7-technique

  • Young (turned 21 in March) with ample upside to develop

Downside

  • Disappointing testing numbers, even when compared to true DTs

  • Could use more lower-body explosion, upper-body strength

  • Outflanked too often on perimeter runs

  • Doesn't set as hard an edge as you'd like to see

  • Hesitates and stalls his feet when defending read-option plays

  • Gets upright in his rush and provides blockers a big target zone

  • Technicians can give him fits and draw lots of stalemates

  • Mississippi State's Charles Cross, Bama's Evan Neal got better of him in back-to-back games

  • Lacks finishing ability now — far more almost-sacks than sacks

  • Win rate drops considerably when kicking inside

  • Can run hot and cold — disappears for spells

  • Guilty of some boneheaded penalties, wiping out wins for the defense

  • Unclear where his best short- and long-term position fits might be

  • Some feel he bought into his own hype too much

  • Tape never quite matched his reputation, even in breakout 2021 season

Best-suited destination

The team that drafts Leal has to know what it wants to do with him. Is he a power end in a four-man front? A 5-technique in an odd front? A do-it-all performer? Answering that question might allow an NFL team to get Leal at the optimal weight to harness his raw, natural ability. Very few true ends are athletic enough to play outside in the 280-pound range these days, and Leal isn't yet built for extensive trench duty.

In a best-case scenario, maybe he turns out to be the next Cameron Heyward or Michael Bennett, but both of those players took longer to develop into Pro Bowl-caliber defenders, and it's possible that the team drafting Leal grows impatient — and possibly invests in developing him ... for another team. We think his best chance to succeed early might be as a 5-tech in a 3-4 system, but each club seems to view him a little differently.

Did you know

Leal was named the Aggies' Defensive MVP in 2021 and also was given the team's Community Service Award at the annual team banquet.

Player comp

Dre'Mont Jones, with a shade more upside

Expected draft range

Rounds 2-3

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