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Ex-Steeler Thinks DeMarvin Leal Has Stephon Tuitt-Like Traits

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Steelers DE Demarvin Leal

Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 third-round selection DeMarvin Leal is heading into a crucial Year 3. After showing promise in his rookie campaign, he took a massive step back and barely made an impact in 2023.

His rookie year wasn’t statistically dominant, but he got enough playing time to look like he could be a future piece of the puzzle. In 2023, Leal played more than he did in 2022, and that’s promising. He also saw a different role, playing less edge rusher (33 snaps), more 3-4 end (106 snaps) and more defensive tackle (66 snaps).

Almost all Leal’s playing time came in the first third of the season. He did not play 10 snaps in a game after Week 10. He wasn’t dressed at all for four of the team’s final five games. That’s not how a young player wants to finish his season.

Alan Saunders of Steelers Now asked Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin in January if he still sees a place for Leal in the team’s future plans, and he said they did, but seemed to imply that the answer lies with Leal.

“There certainly is, but he’s got to be a component of that,” Tomlin said. “Obviously, we put helmets on guys that we think are best positioned to help us secure victory and he hadn’t been a component of that. And so, he’s got some work to do.”

Leal came out of Texas A&M measuring at 6-foot-3, 283 pounds. That’s an odd size for what the 3-4 Steelers usually look for in defenders.

That made Leal a “tweener,” and it made it hard to see exactly where he’d fit in with the team in his future. In 2022, he played 1-4 snaps as an edge rusher, 20 snaps over the tackle as a 3-4 end and 43 snaps as an interior defensive lineman, according to PFF’s charting.

Former Steelers outside linebacker Arthur Moats thinks Leal has Stephon Tuitt-like traits, but he has to get better at the fundamentals.

“He reminds me of Tuitt when I’m watching,” he said on the The Arthur Moats Experience With Deke podcast. “And I loved Tuitt. He has everything to do it, he just needs to buckle down. I’m hoping [2023] was a wake up.

“I felt personally that him switching positions as much as it was happening, his technique when he was supposed to be back as an interior d-lineman wasn’t as crisp and fundamentally sound. You’ll see him penetrate at times and see him make a play, but when you’re trying to bump back in and do what you need to do, that pad level isn’t where it needs to be, and the hand placement isn’t where it needs to be.”

So how does Leal plan to move forward after a disheartening second half of the season?

“I think it’s just get with the coaches, like I plan on doing some time this week and just reflecting on the season and just taking all those scratches and all those situations just healing from it, taking it and using it as momentum for next year,” he said. “We’ll see exactly what they want from me, what they need me to do and we’ll get to it.”

Alan Saunders contributed reporting for this story.

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Edward Carmichael
Edward Carmichael
May 14, 2024 10:25 am

as a true Steelers fan, I would use DeMarvin Leal at ILB and OLB then offenses won’t know where he’s coming from and DeMarvin Leal would be hard to block and to compare him to Stephon Tuit after Stephon Tuit sign his big fat contract Stephon Tuit couldn’t stay healthy and when Stephon Tuit is healthy he’s a good player