While some defensive linemen have elevated their 2022 NFL Draft stock through the college football season, Texas A&M prospect DeMarvin Leal has seen something of a slide in his. On his day, the Aggies defensive lineman is a versatile, athletic prospect who showcased disruptive ability at the college level. However, as Leal’s scouting report reveals, there are question marks about his NFL projection with just a week away from the 2022 NFL Draft.
DeMarvin Leal NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Defensive Lineman
- School: Texas A&M
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’3 7/8″
- Weight: 283 pounds
- Wingspan: 80 3/8″
- Arm: 33 1/4″
- Hand: 9 1/2″
DeMarvin Leal Scouting Report
Entering the 2022 NFL Draft cycle, Leal was a highly regarded defensive line prospect with some impressive athletic attributes for his size. Although his stock has soured and slid from those days of summer scouting, there are elements of his report that still hold water in this class and should at least ensure that the Texas A&M defensive lineman has some substantial suitors.
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 DL is one of the most versatile linemen in the nation. The Aggies have used him in every conceivable alignment along the defensive front, with significant exposure at 3-tech, 5-tech, and as a traditional 4-3 defensive end. 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.
Size, speed, and lateral agility
Leal has the size to play inside as a defensive tackle but the explosion of a defensive end. He possesses exceptional athleticism for his size, impressive change-of-direction ability, and enough speed to be a problem as an outside rusher.
Leal’s athletic prowess means that he can effortlessly line up outside but work inside as a pass rusher. His lateral agility is one of the most impressive elements of his NFL Draft scouting report.
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’s 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 on his scouting report, Leal does present as an alluring NFL Draft prospect. However, there is as much to be concerned about, with a high level of uncertainty about his NFL Draft projection. Several defensive tackle prospects have elevated themselves above him this season. Meanwhile, he doesn’t really fit in this deep edge class.
Herein lies the biggest problem with Leal’s scouting report. What is he at the NFL level?
I don’t usually buy into these arguments. I didn’t with Isaiah Simmons and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, and I won’t with Kyle Hamilton in this cycle. However, the question mark is warranted with regards to the Texas A&M lineman. While explosive at times, Leal lacks the true explosion of an elite pass-rush prospect off the edge.
If Leal is to transition — potentially his only realistic projection at this moment — to play defensive tackle in the NFL, then he may need to add a little muscle weight. If he doesn’t, his anchor could be exposed in the run game while playing inside. While his frame would suggest that he could do this, would that compromise some of his explosiveness displayed at 3-tech during his Texas A&M career?
One area of improvement that Leal will need to work on is his ability to disengage from blockers. At present, he’s often 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 be paramount to finding even moderate production at the NFL level.
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.
However, before Leal headed to Texas A&M, 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.
Leal’s NFL Draft ascension
The Texas A&M DL would be a consistent disruptive presence in 2020, 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.
As a result, Leal entered the 2022 NFL Draft class as a top-10 prospect, boasting enticing strength, athleticism, and versatility. However, despite the most productive season of his career (58 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 8 sacks), the Texas A&M defensive lineman prospect has seen a slump in his stock. Some national analysts have even asserted that he may not hear his name called into midway through Day 2 at the very earliest.
Leal’s issues were compounded by a less than expected testing performance for a player whose athleticism is part of his appeal. While posting a 5.0-second 40-yard dash and putting up some impressive agility times, the Texas A&M product struggled in the bench press and posted poor explosion numbers. With his NFL positional projection uncertain, Leal currently sits as the 49th-ranked prospect on the PFN Top 300 Big Board.
Tony Pauline’s scouting report for DeMarvin Leal
Positives: Explosive one-gap defensive tackle who makes game-changing plays on the field. Athletic, quick off the snap, and plays with proper pad level. Rarely off his feet, strong in his lower body, and keeps his feet moving. Tough to knock from the action, moves well in every direction, and is fluid when asked to twist or stunt. Remains disciplined with assignments and easily changes direction or alters his angle of attack.
Negatives: Consistently controlled at the point by a single blocker. Does not display a great closing burst. Possesses average playing strength. True position on Sunday is still undetermined.
Analysis: Leal is a defensive line prospect who showed progress in his game last season and comes with an upside. That being the case, he must fill out his frame, improve his playing strength, and step it up as a pass rusher.