5 Pittsburgh Steelers players poised to improve in 2023

One player has nowhere to go but up; a 2022 rookie without a plan will figure things out in year two.

Steelers, Najee Harris
Steelers, Najee Harris / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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4. DeMarvin Leal was a man without a plan in 2022

DeMarvin Leal was a player who turned heads in preseason last year. Once regarded as a future top-10 pick, Leal slipped all the way to the Steelers in the third round after a somewhat disappointing junior season and lackluster testing at the NFL Combine in 2022.

After an impressive preseason in which he displayed an arsenal of pass-rush moves to get after the quarterback, Leal looked like a man without a plan when the regular season rolled around. It's hard to be too hard on him, however. Leal was just 21 years old as a rookie and was oftentimes playing out of position as an edge defender.

Leal only played in the first five games before landing on IR with a knee injury. When he returned to the field in Week 12, his usage was limited and he didn't get many opportunities to prove himself. Now entering his second season, Leal turned 22 years old just before the NFL Draft. He is healthy and it looks like he has reshaped his body for the upcoming season.

Leal will have the benefit of rotating on a defensive line that now includes rookie Keeanu Benton in addition to Cameron Heyward and Larry Ogunjobi. Assuming the team puts him in the right role this year, Leal is a surefire breakout candidate who is poised for a big second-year leap in 2023.