Karl Dunbar: DeMarvin Leal is Not a Tweener, ‘He’s an Athletic Freak’
PITTSBURGH — DeMarvin Leal heard all of his draft cycle that he was a tweener with a wonky NFL projection. Some thought he could maybe stick at outside linebacker or defensive end, while others wanted to kick him inside. Well, Leal heard those thoughts, and from his pro day, where he was listed at 290 pounds, he is now up to 305 pounds.
That was not the Steelers’ plan, either. According to Steelers defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, Leal did that all on his own. With that in mind, Leal is strictly an inside pass rusher now. He will work anywhere from the 1-technique to a 5-technique. Dunbar pointed out, however, that Leal is such an athletic freak that he could do anything he really wanted to do. That is the type of player they believe they are getting. As such, they are excited to see what Leal can do moving forward.
“He’s starting to get his NFL body,” Dunbar said. “He has that big round butt you look for and he’s using his hips to come through and strike guys. He’s incredibly explosive. Once again, it is a young guy learning what we can do with him. We are coaching him up, and playing to his strengths.”
Leal now will try to find his spot on the Steelers defensive line. He does look a tweeter anymore. The fact that he can work inside and outside with experience could be a boon. Leal will have to adjust to his full time role on the inside now. The transition could see Leal bloom into one of the better interior pass rushers in the NFL. That is what Dunbar and company are hoping to see out of the Texas A&M product.
“He’s not a tweener,” Dunbar said. “He’s 6-foot-3, 300 pounds. Now, he’s athletic enough to go outside. But he’s man enough to play inside. He’s not a tweener, he’s an athletic freak. It’s not hard to coach him up. He fits well with what we are going to do. The guys who drafted him did a great job of evaluating him.”
Still, Leal is a classic case of projection to the next level. He was a guy with no true position at Texas A&M, but the position he will play in Pittsburgh is clear. Leal has versatility to go up and down the weight scale as seen, though. That could be something that the Steelers utilize in the future. But his athleticism will allow him to some special things that not everyone can simply do at this stage.
“I think our guys did a great job discovering him,” Dunbar said. “You can see what he can turn into. We see him as a guy who can play 4, he can play a wide-9 technique. Hell, he can play inside as a nose tackle. But for us, he is going to fit extremely well with what we do here.”
Leal will now have a chance to crack the Steelers’ defensive line rotation. They will evaluate how he is coming along to truly put him into the best position to start off his career. Leal views this more as an opportunity than anything. With Stephon Tuitt out of the equation, maybe Leal can make a year one impact out of the gate.