Leal Was More Valuable In Rookie Season Than His Numbers Show
There was much more to Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal's rookie season than just his numbers.
In 11 games with two starts, Leal recorded 14 total tackles with a tackle for loss and three passes defensed. From the surface, they may not seem like much, but Leal proved to be more valuable than his numbers suggest.
Versatility is a metric that generally cannot be measured, and during the stretch of the 2022 season, Leal's ability to play multiple spots on the line of scrimmage was a big reason why the team's run defense improved.
In their Week 17 win against the Baltimore Ravens, Leal played a season-high 27 defensive snaps and played a major role in what was a pivotal win. Despite not registering any stats in their Week 15 win against the Carolina Panthers, Leal's presence was felt as they relegated the Panthers to just 21 total rushing yards. As a run stopper, he would finish the season with 3.5 run stuffs.
With one year under his belt in the NFL, one should expect greater things from Leal in 2023. With his ability to rush the passer and stop the run, his value to the team should increase exponentially. With his overall skills, one should not overlook him as a potential breakout player.