3 Steelers with the most opportunity following Stephon Tuitt’s retirement
By Tommy Jaggi
Steelers DeMarvin Leal
History shows that Steelers rookie defensive linemen typically don’t play a ton of snaps as rookies. That could very well be because of the quality depth that was ahead of players like Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt on the roster.
Though third-round draft choices don’t always have big roles right away, DeMarvin Leal may be asked to contribute on defense much sooner than expected. The talented defensive lineman played a hybrid role at Texas A&M as an oversized edge defender in base defense, but he will transition to the 5-technique, 3-4 defensive end role for the Steelers.
Leal still has an uphill battle for playing time as at least Wormley and Loudermilk will be ahead of him on the depth chart to begin the summer. However, if the 21-year-old impresses, it’s possible he could carve out a significant role as a rookie.
At the very least, Pittsburgh may elect to use Leal on passing downs as a quick and nimble interior pass rusher who can get after the quarterback. This is where he can excel at the next level. Leal isn’t as big or long as Tuitt, but he was once talked about as a potential top-10 pick, and the upside is clearly there to be a starter down the line.
The Steelers are almost certain to use a defensive lineman by committee approach alongside Cameron Heyward this year. Let’s hope that 2022 yields better results than the Stephon Tuitt-less defensive line we saw in 2021.