Darius Leonard captured the Defensive Rookie of the Year award after a dominant start to his career:

Photo credit: Al Pereira / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma


If you exclude Aaron Donald then no defender was better than Darius Leonard in 2018. The 2nd round pick out of South Carolina State was an impact player ever since stepping on the field for Indianapolis. Leonard led the entire NFL with 163 tackles and that helped him earn All-Pro and Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Weā€™re witnessing the next great linebacker solidify himself and the Colts improved defensively because they have such a stellar athlete leading the way. Very few people have the instincts to come out and diagnose plays like Leonard did. It seemed like he knew exactly what the offenses were calling and itā€™s hard to beat Indianapolis when one guy is dominating like that. It got to the point where running in Darius Leonardā€™s direction was just asking for trouble. Having a defender that can dictate where or not an offense can attack is crucial and weā€™re all waiting for the 2019 season. Everyone wants to see if Leonard can repeat his league leading output and come back with another monster year? Based off what you see on tape it feels like Leonard is the real deal and heā€™s here to stay. Thatā€™s good news because Andrew Luck completely resurrected Indy on the other side of the ball. Which means Leonard must captain the ship on defense and make sure they keep points off the board. Thatā€™s the role youā€™re cast in when you have a campaign like Leonard was able to put together. Chris Ballard and Frank Reich are excited about the foundation he was able to lie and now itā€™s about taking it day by day and getting a little bit better. Leonard made it to the top and from here on out itā€™s about maintaining that position. Which isnā€™t going to be easy to do because the NFL is hypercompetitive.

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