Can fire his gap to create penetration, disruption
Can fight through blocks as a pass rusher
Can rush off the edge or inside
Speed to close
Excellent instincts as a run defender
Has experience lining up at a variety of spots
Successful against good competition
Ready to contribute
Will have issues as a run defender playing inside in the NFL
Teams can run at him
Should improve downhill run defense
Could be limited to pass-rush packages in the early going of his career
Some team sources say Leal has sort of a bad body
Summary: In recent years, Texas A&M has produced some good athletes on the defensive line, including Myles Garrett and Justin Madibuike. Leal worked his way onto the field as a freshman, recording 38 tackles with two sacks. As a sophomore, he had 37 tackles, 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one interception. He really came on in the second half of the season. In 2021, Leal totaled 58 tackles, 8.5 sacks, one forced fumble and two passes defended. He decided to skip the Gator Bowl to prepare for the pre-draft workouts.
Leal shows excellent instincts in run defense, and that helps him cause disruption at the point of attack. He quickly recognizes and diagnoses plays to get in position to disrupt runs and help his teammates limit carries. Leal struggles at holding his ground on the inside, where guards are able to get a push on him, and Leal has a serious lack of power. He needs to get stronger for the pros to hold his ground and not get pushed out of his gap consistently.
In the pass rush, Leal is a real threat on the interior. He has a quick first-step, and his ablity to fire his gap to work upfield. With nice agility and fluidity, Leal is a slippery rusher on the inside, and offensive linemen often struggle to get a firm hold of him. If Leal gets stronger, that would help him to shed blocks, but he could be a valuable interior pass rusher in the NFL.
Infinitely more important than the opinion of a draft analyst is what NFL teams think of Leal. Here is what a survey of sources said about Leal.
"He'll probably go in the second," said a director of player personnel. "I love his ability to rush the passer, and he's instinctive versus the run. But I have my struggles with him. I think he's going to have issues early on playing the run inside. And he has sort of a bad body. Feels like more of a package guy early on."
"I don't see a high first-rounder with Leal," said a national scout. "He's not powerful or sudden, but he's agile and fluid. He will struggle inside."
"I have some concerns with Leal," said an area scout. "He's really a three-technique who thinks he's a defensive end. The interior stuff isn't great though, which bothers me with the vision as to how productive a pro he'll be. Leal got walked like a dog versus Alabama playing inside. He similarly sees himself as a 4-3 defensive end. He doesn't want to play inside. That's the knock. He'll do it, but mentality wise, he doesn't see himself there. Those guys always struggle in the league because that's where he's going to have to make his money. He's not explosive or powerful enough to stand on the edge. Cam Jordan is his size and a hell of a lot longer, more violent, and was a 4.69 guy at that size. Leal is really a 1.5-year producer."
Leal looks like a late first-round or early second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: DaQuan Bowers Some team sources said Leal is like Bowers in that he should be a three-technique but is more of a defensive end. Bowers was a second-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, and Leal could be a second-rounder this year.