The Steelers switched to the defensive side of the ball for their third-round pick, selecting Texas A&M defensive end DeMarvin Leal with the 84th pick overall in the 2022 NFL Draft.
"We had a very nice grade on him," said defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. "The fact that he was sitting there really surprised all of us, so it was a no-brainer for us to choose him."
Leal started 12 games his junior season, finishing with 8.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for a loss, leading the Aggies in both categories.
"Really liked him as a football player," said Austin. "Really versatile. Plays multiple positions across the line. We think has an opportunity to be a good player for us. He offers us some versatility. Has the frame to get a little bit bigger. He does some things pass rush wise, run game wise, that we really like and we value here."
Take a look at photos of the Pittsburgh Steelers third-round pick DL DeMarvin Leal
Leal will be pegged as an end but Austin definitely stressed his versatility multiple times in what he can bring.
"Initially we'll probably look at him at an end spot. It all depends," said Austin. "He has some flexibility. If you are playing base defense, you can look at him as an end. When you are playing your nickel defense you may look at him at a different position. That is all to be determined as we get moving."
Leal is 6-4 and said he is 283, and Austin said with his frame he can get bigger to play in the base.
"If he is going to play in the base that position is going to take a bigger man," said Austin. "He has the frame to do it. I have no reservations about him being able to fit anywhere in our scheme."
Leal said he was aware the Steelers had an interest in him after interaction with defensive line coach Karl Dunbar during the pre-draft process.
"We hit it off, talked good ball, and talked to my family, and I could tell they were interested as well," said Leal. "Talking to all the coaches at the combine, a day full of meetings. I'm genuinely excited to be a part of the organization.
"Everything worked out the way I wanted to at the end of the day. I'm just glad to be in this position and be a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers."
2021 Ted Hendricks Award Finalist
2021 AP All-America First Team
2021 Sporting News All-America First Team
2021 AP and Coaches' All-SEC First Team
2021 FWAA All-America Second Team
2021 Walter Camp All-America Second Team
2021 The Athletic All-America Second Team
2021 (JUNIOR): Started 12 games … Finished the season tied for fifth in the SEC with 8.5 sacks and tied for ninth with 12.5 tackles for loss, leading the Aggies in both categories ... Tallied five tackles and 1.0 sacks in the season-opening win over Kent State … Recorded a pass breakup and five takedowns, including 1.0 for a loss, at Colorado … Registered a career-high 1.5 sacks and added three tackles against New Mexico ... Compiled five tackles and two hurries against Arkansas ... Set career highs in TFL (2.5) and sacks (2.0) against Mississippi State ... Logged seven tackles in the win over No. 1 Alabama ... Added six tackles, including 2.0 for loss and a sack at Missouri ... Tallied six tackles as the Aggies held No. 12 Auburn to just three points ... Compiled seven tackles, a sack and forced a fumble at Ole Miss ... Registered a sack against Prairie View ... Recorded six tackles and a sack at LSU ... Earned Defensive MVP and Community Service Award honors at the annual team banquet.
2020 (SOPHOMORE): Started all 10 games ... Led the defense in hurries with eight and ranked fifth in tackles with 37 … Made the start against Vanderbilt and finished with seven tackles, 2.0 for loss, in the season-opening victory ... Recorded the first interception of his career, returning it 43 yards to set up an A&M touchdown at Alabama ... Recovered a fumble forced late in the fourth quarter by LB Buddy Johnson that set up A&M's game-winning drive to top No. 4 Florida ... Had three QB hurries and one of A&M's season-best 6.0 sacks in the win at Mississippi State … Added a half-sack and a breakup in the dominant 48-3 win at South Carolina … Matched his career high with seven tackles, one being for a loss in the win over LSU ... Named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week for his performance against the Tigers … Finished with three tackles, one for loss, and a QB hurry in the win at Auburn … Led the defense with five tackles, along with a sack and a forced fumble in the win at Tennessee … Tied his career high of seven tackles, including one for a loss in the Orange Bowl victory over North Carolina ... Earned team Defensive MVP and Spring Defensive MVP honors.
2019 (FRESHMAN): Played in all 13 games, making seven starts … Was second on the team with five QB hurries … Helped on a tackle in the season-opening win over Texas State … Had three tackles and a hurry against Alabama … Was in on five tackles in the win at Ole Miss … Made six tackles and added a QB hurry against Mississippi State … Had six tackles, including 2.0 for loss against UTSA … Had a tackle and a hurry in the win over South Carolina … Made five tackles at Georgia … Had four tackles, including a solo sack for a 5-yard loss at LSU … Was in on five tackles, adding a hurry, in the Texas Bowl win over Oklahoma State … Earned the Defense Top Newcomer and Freshman Strength Awards at the team's annual banquet.
HIGH SCHOOL: Was coached by Sean McAuliffe at Judson High School ... Was an Army All-American ... Named to Dave Campbell's Texas Football Tops in Texas First Team ... As a junior, was named to AP All-State Second Team ... Tallied 83 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 13 quarterback hits, six sacks, six pass breakups, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a blocked punt in 2018.