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Texas A&M's DeMarvin Leal NFL Draft Top Target Or Barely First-Round Talent?

ESPN's Mel Kiper has the Aggies defensive lineman just making the first-round cut in his latest mock draft

Texas A&M defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal is expected to be a top name in the trenches for the 2022 NFL Draft. Does that mean he'll be a first-round pick? 

According to ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock draft, Leal does fit into the Day 1 chatter, but a tad lower than perhaps fans are expected. Considered to be a hybrid defensive player, Leal is the second lineman selected, heading down to Florida to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 30th overall pick. 

Like the Cowboys, the Bucs have several free agents hitting the open market this offseason, including center Ryan Jensen, wide receiver Chris Godwin, cornerback Carlton Davis and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. So while time will tell which players they bring back, this pick is about a like-for-like replacement for Ndamukong Suh, who turned 35 earlier this month and has been playing on one-year contracts.

The 290-pound Leal could play defensive end in a 3-4 scheme or 3-technique tackle in a 4-3. He has a powerful lower half and strong hands. He had 8.5 sacks for the Aggies in 2021, showing improvement on his ability to take down quarterbacks. - Mel Kiper Jr. 

Leal, who elected to forgo his final season in College Station, is an ideal hybrid name to watch for due to his success with the Aggies' front seven. As the only name to not come off the field under Mike Elko's play-calling, Leal was interchangeable, lining up at defensive end on run-heavy plays and moving inside to the 3-technique as a pass rusher. 

A three-year standout, Leal recorded 133 total tackles, 25 tackles for losses, 13 sacks, and an interception. In his final season, the San Antonio native led the team in tackles for losses (12.5) and finished tied for second in sacks (8.5) behind fellow draft standout Tyree Johnson. 

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From a defensive end position, Leal is the seventh player selected in Kiper's mock. Michigan's Aidan Hutchison and Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux land with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Arnold Ebiketie from Penn State is selected No. 16 overall to the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Purdue's George Karlaftis and Georgia's Travon Walker landed with the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys and No. 23 and No. 24, respectively. The Kansas City Chiefs bolstered their trenches with the addition of Cameron Thomas from San Diego State at pick No. 29. 

If Leal is viewed by teams as a defensive tackle, he would be the second player drafted at the position. Georgia's Jordan Davis, best known for his run-stopping ability, was selected No. 17 overall by the Los Angeles Chargers.

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