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2022 NFL Mock Draft: Chargers nab versatile defensive lineman with 17th pick

This would be quite the steal in the middle of the first.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 29 Texas State at Texas A&M Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the Chargers now officially beginning their 2022 offseason, it’s time to start looking towards this year’s NFL draft and the rest of the major offseason dates and events.

During his end-of-the-year press conference on Wednesday, Brandon Staley told the media that improving the team’s defensive front will be at the center of the team’s offseason plans. That includes the defensive line and their second level players.

In our first highlight of a 2022 NFL mock draft, Oliver Hodgkinson of Pro Football Network has the Chargers snagging one of the biggest steals of the first round in Texas A&M defensive lineman, DeMarvin Leal.

“Texas A&M’s DeMarvin Leal is a versatile defensive lineman who is equally adept at wreaking havoc off the edge or from the interior,” said Hodgkinson. “A highly-rated prospect, he would be a steal with the 17th pick.”

At a massive 6’4 and 290 pounds, Leal would be another sizable presence along the interior of the Chargers defense. In his final year with the Aggies, Leal totaled 58 tackles with a whopping 12.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. He was also named a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award (nation’s top defensive player).

Earlier, the first word I used to describe Leal was versatile. That’s because, even at 290 pounds, Leal has legitimate talent when rushing off the edge. His explosiveness and power are a nightmare for opposing tackles and it doesn’t help them when the guy attempting to get past them isn’t giving up much weight in the matchup.

What you’ll likely notice the most in his film is his ability to shed blocks. He’s built thick through his lower body which helps him create an immense amount of torque when he needs to chuck an offensive linemen out of the way. His center of gravity also seems fairly low to the ground compared to others at his height and that seems to aid him when bending around edges and breaking down around ball-carriers.

As of right now, Leal is at or near the top of my list for prospects I’d like to see the Chargers draft in the first round. While there will be plenty of other names we’ll get into through the coming weeks, I wanted to highlight a player I think is a perfect fit for Staley’s five-man front.

In the comments below, let me know what you all think of Leal and whether or not you’d love to see the Chargers draft him in April. Also, go ahead and throw out some names of other prospects that you’d like to see me highlight in the future!