This year’s Texas A&M Aggies team is loaded with talent. Aside from uncertainty at the quarterback position, they have players near the top of every position group. Leading the charge of 2022 NFL Draft prospects is defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal. The 6’4″, 290-pound monster is already one of the most exciting defensive linemen in the nation. What does Leal’s scouting report reveal about his potential as a first-round selection next year?
DeMarvin Leal NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Defensive End/Defensive Tackle
- School: Texas A&M
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 290 pounds
DeMarvin Leal Scouting Report
Versatility is one of the most valuable attributes in the NFL, so let’s start Leal’s scouting report right there. The Texas A&M defensive lineman is one of the most versatile linemen in the nation. The Aggies have used him in every conceivable alignment along the defensive front during his two seasons in College Station. Leal has demonstrated the ability to play with his hand in the ground or stood up, with no discernible difference in his capacity to impact the game.
How is Leal able to be so effective anywhere across the defensive line?
He has the size to play inside as a defensive tackle but the explosion of a defensive end. Leal possesses exceptional athleticism for his size, impressive change of direction ability, and enough speed to be a problem as an outside rusher. His athletic prowess means that Leal can effortlessly line up outside but work inside as a pass rusher.
In addition to his size and athletic ability, Leal is blessed with remarkable arm length. This enables him to be disruptive in multiple ways. Leal uses his length at the point of attack to cause issues in the ground game. Additionally, he uses his arms to get up and disrupt the ball in the air.
Although his pass-rush plan is a work in progress, Leal appears to have several tools in his armory. He has exhibited the ability to use push-pull, bull rush, and spin moves to find a way to win. His bull rush contains excellent power, routinely moving men upfield and into the path of their quarterback.
Areas for improvement
With athleticism, versatility, and strength, Leal owns the makings of a first-round prospect. However, there are areas for improvement and development to ensure he lives up to that potential in the 2022 NFL Draft.
If Leal is to transition (as expected) to play defensive tackle in the NFL, then he may need to add a little muscle weight. Thankfully, he has the frame to do just that without impacting his athleticism.
One area of improvement that Leal will need to work on is his ability to disengage from blockers. At present, he can be engaged for too long, reducing his odds of impacting the play. He needs to work on his hand usage to counter in these situations.
Although Leal appears to have multiple moves at his disposal, he needs to routinely execute a better pass-rush plan. Putting together pass-rush combinations in a timely fashion will lead to more statistical production. At present, his sack numbers aren’t demonstrative of his potential to cause pressure.
DeMarvin Leal’s Player Profile
Throughout his journey to the NFL Draft, Leal has been lauded for his versatility and athleticism. During his career at Judson High School, both coaches and media raved about his motor, length, strong hands, and ability to devastatingly impact the game from anywhere on the defensive line.
Even as a sophomore, Leal established himself as a game wrecker. He earned All-District honors as a sophomore before elevating his game to second-team All-State level as a junior. The feat is impressive in any state, but Leal grew up in San Antonio in the heartland of high school football. It wasn’t simply the case of being the best of a bad bunch. Leal was a legitimate high school standout.
As a result, he earned a five-star rating from 247 Sports. Although openly admitting he preferred to be considered a defensive end, Leal was the second-best defensive tackle in the 2019 recruiting class. Furthermore, 247 Sports ranked him as the second-best player in Texas, the 16th-best player in the nation, and a top-400 player of all time.
Unsurprisingly, Leal attracted attention from college programs across the nation
Yet, the Texas native only had eyes for home. Although he visited Alabama, his only other visits were to Texas and Texas A&M. Before his senior season, Leal announced that his recruiting journey found its final destination: College Station.
On explaining his decision, Leal said:
“The Aggie network, family environment, and that has been home since forever, really. And it’s SEC in Texas, you can’t beat that.”
As the adage goes, if you can’t beat them, join them. However, before Leal did, there was the small matter of his senior high school campaign. Leal registered 83 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 13 quarterback hits, 6 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles in what would prove to be his most dominant season to date. Moreover, he flashed his disruptive ability with 6 pass breakups and a blocked punt.
Earning an Army All-American invite and a spot on Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Team, Leal headed to Texas A&M as the District 26-6A Defensive Player of the Year.
Leal’s career at Texas A&M
Despite missing spring ball with an injury, Leal looked to make an immediate impact in the SEC. The disruptive defensive lineman made his debut against Texas State, and it wouldn’t be long until he was racking up defensive statistics.
Leal tallied his first full tackle for loss in a game against UTSA, where the Texas A&M defensive lineman generated 6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and a half-sack. In the regular-season finale against LSU, he secured his first full sack in addition to 4 tackles and a tackle for loss.
In 13 appearances with seven starts as a true freshman, Leal recorded 38 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. Although not earth-shattering numbers, the defensive lineman sat second on the team in quarterback hurries. His performances earned him the team’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year Award. Furthermore, his impressive strength witnessed on the field was rewarded with the team’s Freshman Strength Award.
Despite the disruption of the 2020 college football offseason, Leal hit the ground running as a sophomore
Leal opened the season with a career-high 7 tackles against Vanderbilt. The Texas A&M defensive lineman would display a consistent disruptive presence, meeting his career-high tackle totals twice more against LSU and North Carolina. Leal was named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week for his performance against the Tigers.
The 2020 season would see a sequence of career firsts for Leal. Against Alabama, he secured his first — and only — career interception after plucking a tipped pass out of the air. Leal would provide his fair share of defensive disruption, using his length at the line of scrimmage to break up 3 passes during the year. Additionally, Leal registered his only career forced fumble to date against Tennessee.
As well as being one of the team leaders in tackles for loss, Leal led Texas A&M in QB hurries in 2020. He returns for the upcoming college football season as one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in the nation. If he continues to elevate his game this year, Leal’s versatility and athleticism should ensure he enters the 2022 NFL Draft as a potential first-round pick.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.