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2018 Colts Position Review: Linebackers

Believe it or not, other guys not named Darius Leonard also played linebacker for Indy, and they were excellent.

NFL: AFC Divisional Playoff-Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Starters: Darius Leonard, Anthony Walker Jr.

Bench: Najee Goode, Matthew Adams, Zaire Franklin

The main reason the Colts defense was as good as it was this season was Darius Leonard. He was the brightest star the Colts have had on defense since the days of Robert Mathis.

The Maniac racked up a league leading 163 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries and 2 interceptions. Not bad for a guy labeled as one of the worst draft picks by the Colts. Considering most NFL scouts were drooling over the selections of players like Roquan Smith or Leighton Vander Esch, I took the liberty to make a chart comparing Leonard with every LB selected before him.

Darius Leonard Vs. other rookies

///////////////////////// Darius Leonard L. Vander Esch Roquan Smith Tremaine Edmunds Rashaan Evans
///////////////////////// Darius Leonard L. Vander Esch Roquan Smith Tremaine Edmunds Rashaan Evans
Tackles 163 140 121 121 53
TFL 12 2 8 5 2
QB Hits 8 1 5 7 1
Sacks 7 - 5 2 -
Pass Deflections 8 7 5 12 1
Interceptions 2 2 1 2 -
Forced Fumbles 4 - - 2 -
Fumble Recoveries 2 - - - -
Starts 15 11 14 15 7

Even though he was snubbed from the Pro Bowl, Leonard got the credit he deserved from people that do know a thing or two about football. He won Defensive Rookie of the Year and was also named a first team All-Pro. Look out for this one, the Colts have a superstar on their hands.

Next to Leonard, and often overlooked, was Anthony Walker Jr. Walker made tremendous strides last season, and was also a key cog on the Colts defense. He racked up over 100 tackles and seemed to make a big play or two every single game. He and Leonard figure to be the Colts linebackers of the future, and they form one of the most promising young duos in the NFL.

Walker needs to work on his athleticism and run stuffing to take the next step and become an elite NFL linebacker. Playing next to Leonard and probably in an improved defense next season will surely help his cause.

As for depth, the Colts were somewhat lacking. 7th round pick Matthew Adams proved to be a valuable backup and special teams player, Najee Goode was okey at best and Zaire Franklin looked rather raw. The Colts could use a few veterans to backup the youngsters Leonard and Walker, and also to help tutor the young linebacker core, my choice would be Craig Robertson, from the Saints.

Overall, if Leonard and Walker don’t miss meaningful time, the Colts are set. Still, the need for a veteran proven backup is evident and should not be overlooked.

Sidenote dedicated to Edwin “Poundcake” Jackson, Colts linebacker killed in a DUI last year. He would have likely thrived in Eberflus’ defense and had a bright football future. May he rest in peace.