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ESPN ranks Darius Leonard as the NFL's top LB.


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ESPN ranks Darius Leonard as the NFL's top LB

Kevin Hickey 

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Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard has been impressing everyone since he first stepped onto the field as a second-round pick during the 2018 season.

Now, The Maniac has three All-Pro First Team and three Pro Bowl selections under his belt while racking up the numbers in several categories. He’s been the heart of the Colts defense and earned himself a payday that made him the highest-paid player at the position.

Entering the 2022 season, ESPN ranked Leonard as the best off-ball linebacker in the NFL.

Leonard remains a splash-play generator. His combination of eight forced fumbles and four interceptions in 2021 led this group by a wide margin. The Colts gave Leonard a $99.2 million extension before last season because of his ability to get the ball back to his offense with length and explosion.

“He can flip the game at any moment,” a high-ranking AFC executive said. “That worries you more as an opponent than a traditional linebacker because he gets his hands on the ball all of the time.”

Through four seasons, Leonard has 11 interceptions, 17 forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and 15 sacks. As a rookie in 2018, the Colts used him in a role that allowed for more blitzes, resulting in seven sacks. His sacks have decreased every year since then, due in large part to how Indianapolis uses him in space and coverage more often.

Leonard sometimes can struggle with sturdiness and tackling in the box, one exec told me, and he also started 2021 slowly because of an ankle injury. His elite instincts easily make up for that, however.

“He’s already the most disruptive linebacker, and he can do things to clean up his technique and get even better,” a veteran NFL defensive player said. “Sometimes you’ll see him standing straight up before the ball is snapped instead of in a linebacker position and you’re like, ‘What?’ But then he takes the ball away and you’re like, ‘Oh, OK.'”

One thing to keep an eye on: Leonard had back surgery in July and will miss part of training camp recovering.

Leonard was dealing with an ankle injury throughout the majority of the 2021 season. He still put up gaudy numbers en route to his third All-Pro nod. His eight forced fumbles led the NFL.

The Colts are expecting Leonard to be ready for the start of the regular season, but even if he misses some time during training camp, he’ll remain the heart of the defense upon his return.

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Thus is a poorly worded headline.    YES, it’s an ESPN story, but ESPN is NOT doing the ranking.   It’s an annual poll they do the last 5 years or so.   

 

They poll 50 GMs, coaches, scouts and players and ESPN simply counts up the votes and writes it up.   They do this for every position.  
 

Today they released cornerback rankings.   Yes, Gilmore and Moore both received votes,  but were not in the top-10. 

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This is NOT an ESPN ranking.   This not the opinion of some ESPN writer.   Every year, the network polls 50 GMs, HCs, scouts and players for their view.  
 

This is BETER than an ESPN opinion piece.   This ranking is coming from NFL EXPERTS. 

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22 minutes ago, 2006Coltsbestever said:

This is the best team we have had since 2009. 


Oh, the irony!

 

In the last few days,  we’ve had Darius Leonard and Quenton Nelson voted BEST at their position by 50 of their top peers. 
 

Has anyone here ever written anything bad either of these guys?   How about BOTH of these guys?    How terrible that we have to suffer with two guys who are best at their position in the entire NFL. 
 

 

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20 minutes ago, NewColtsFan said:


Oh, the irony!

 

In the last few days,  we’ve had Darius Leonard and Quenton Nelson voted BEST at their position by 50 of their top peers. 
 

Has anyone here ever written anything bad either of these guys?   How about BOTH of these guys?    How terrible that we have to suffer with two guys who are best at their position in the entire NFL. 
 

 

I don't understand your response. He was praising the team. 

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16 minutes ago, Tsarquise said:

I don't understand your response. He was praising the team. 


I was referencing our two posters who think the organization has made a big mistake investing in Nelson and Leonard , both with picks and big second contracts.   
 

One poster has made roughly a million posts saying this, the other has only made about a half million.  

I was NOT commenting on the OP. 
 

Sorry I didn’t make it more obvious. 

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41 minutes ago, NewColtsFan said:


I was referencing our two posters who think the organization has made a big mistake investing in Nelson and Leonard , both with picks and big second contracts.   
 

One poster has made roughly a million posts saying this, the other has only made about a half million.  

I was NOT commenting on the OP. 
 

Sorry I didn’t make it more obvious. 

Ooohhhh, gotcha! 

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2 hours ago, NewColtsFan said:


Oh, the irony!

 

In the last few days,  we’ve had Darius Leonard and Quenton Nelson voted BEST at their position by 50 of their top peers. 
 

Has anyone here ever written anything bad either of these guys?   How about BOTH of these guys?    How terrible that we have to suffer with two guys who are best at their position in the entire NFL. 
 

 

Yep, I gave you a trophy for that post. We are basically loaded. People that complain about Maniac and Nelson has me confused. Our WR room isn't the best but Matt Ryan is an upgrade over Wentz and I think Hines will have a huge year - ace in the hole. I still think we bring back TY but I could be wrong. Not picking on @Nicksterbut he thought Taylor sucked midway through 2020 in his rookie season, even called him Trent. I kept trying tell him that Taylor would be great. @Moosejawcoltwill never except the fact that Leonard was the right pick and a fantastic pick in 2018. It kills me when people say Leonard can't defend the pass well = @EastStreet and all he does is get INT's like the 1 against the Pats QB last season (Jones).

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11 minutes ago, 2006Coltsbestever said:

Yep, I gave you a trophy for that post. We are basically loaded. People that complain about Maniac and Nelson has me confused. Our WR room isn't the best but Matt Ryan is an upgrade over Wentz and I think Hines will have a huge year - ace in the hole. I still think we bring back TY but I could be wrong. Not picking on @Nicksterbut he thought Taylor sucked midway through 2020 in his rookie season, even called him Trent. I kept trying tell him that Taylor would be great. @Moosejawcoltwill never except the fact that Leonard was the right pick and a fantastic pick in 2018. It kills me when people say Leonard can't defend the pass well = @EastStreet and all he does is get INT's like the 1 against the Pats QB last season (Jones).

 

Dude, Leonard is one of my favorite players, and I have defended him often against several posters. 

But his pass D has been up and down, and suspect at times.

He did well this last season in terms of INTs, but in 2020, he had zero and gave up a horrible passer rating when targeted (109.2). 

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1 minute ago, EastStreet said:

 

Dude, Leonard is one of my favorite players, and I have defended him often against several posters. 

But his pass D has been up and down, and suspect at times.

He did well this last season in terms of INTs, but in 2020, he had zero and gave up a horrible passer rating when targeted (109.2). 

You have to go by whole career though, yeah he had a down year in 2020. I was just busting your balls for fun ray liotta GIF- I know you like Leonard.

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25 minutes ago, 2006Coltsbestever said:

Yep, I gave you a trophy for that post. We are basically loaded. People that complain about Maniac and Nelson has me confused. Our WR room isn't the best but Matt Ryan is an upgrade over Wentz and I think Hines will have a huge year - ace in the hole. I still think we bring back TY but I could be wrong. Not picking on @Nicksterbut he thought Taylor sucked midway through 2020 in his rookie season, even called him Trent. I kept trying tell him that Taylor would be great. @Moosejawcoltwill never except the fact that Leonard was the right pick and a fantastic pick in 2018. It kills me when people say Leonard can't defend the pass well = @EastStreet and all he does is get INT's like the 1 against the Pats QB last season (Jones).

I juat value a LB at 20 million much like I dont value a guard at 20 mill

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7 minutes ago, Moosejawcolt said:

I juat value a LB at 20 million much like I dont value a guard at 20 mill

I know but without Leonard and Nelson we aren't near the same team. How valuable is a RB? Taylor and Hines are really our best weapons outside of Pittman.

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4 hours ago, 2006Coltsbestever said:

 

1 hour ago, Moosejawcolt said:

I juat value a LB at 20 million much like I dont value a guard at 20 mill


Yes….    We ALL know that.    You’ve only said so in most every post you’ve ever made here. 

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