Who is Darius Leonard?
- Darius Leonard played college football at South Carolina State
- He was drafted the Colts in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft
- Darius Leonard is the one of the most successful linebacker in Colts' history
Darius Leonard is an American football linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League (NFL). Born on July 27, 1995, he played college football at South Carolina State and was drafted the Colts in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. In his first season, Leonard led the league in tackles and was selected to the First Team All-Pro and was also named Defensive Rookie of the Year. Due to his enthusiastic and effective on-field performance, Leonard has earned the nick name "Maniac".
Leonard participated in the NFL Scouting Combine, but he was unable to finish all of the drills due to a quadriceps injury he sustained while running the 40-yard sprint. He still successfully completed the bench press, 40-yard dash, 20-yard dash, and 10-yard dash. Leonard was predicted by NFL draft analysts and scouts to be selected in the second or third round at the completion of the pre-draft process.
With the 36th overall choice in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts selected Leonard. On July 23, 2018, Leonard agreed to a four-year, $7.24 million contract, with a $3.35 million signing bonus and a guaranteed $4.16 million. In the Colts' season-opening game against the Cincinnati Bengals, he made his professional regular season debut and first career start. He finished with nine total tackles and recovered a fumble in their 34-23 defeat. In 15 games and 15 starts, he concluded his rookie season in 2018 with 163 total tackles (111 solo), eight pass deflections, seven sacks, and two interceptions. Leonard had the most tackles of any rookie players in 2018.
He was chosen to play in his first Pro Bowl after the 2019 season. Leonard had a team-high 121 tackles despite missing three games due to injury, including 71 solo stops, six tackles for loss, five sacks, six passes deflected, five interceptions, and two forced fumbles. He also made history by becoming the first NFL player since 1982 to start his career with at least 10 sacks and five interceptions.
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Leonard became the highest-paid outside linebacker in the NFL when he signed a five-year, $99.25 million contract with the Colts on August 8, 2021, which included a $52.5 million guaranteed extension. He was selected to four All-Pro teams (First Team in 2018, 2020 and 2021; Second Team in 2019). Leonard is the linebacker with the most First Team All-Pro choices and overall All-Pro selections, in Colts' history.