According to Indianapolis Colts 2x All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard, he plans on topping himself in Year 3 with even bigger self-goals—as he sat down virtually with the Indianapolis media on Wednesday (via 1070 The Fan’s Kevin Bowen):
Leonard’s goals in Year 3:— Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) May 6, 2020
-Defensive Player of the Year
Said he met 3 or 4 of the 15 goals he wrote down last year.
Still short of his 25th birthday, the Colts superstar linebacker has been one of the biggest draft steals in recent memory over the past two years—as the 36th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.
After being notoriously labeled “one of the worst draft picks” then, Leonard has consistently proven his critics wrong and overcome the odds—which is nothing new for the defensive hidden gem from South Carolina State.
He seems to feed off being ‘slighted’, and it happened again in 2018, when he earned First-Team All-Pro and Defensive Rookie of the Year honors but still couldn’t muster an invite to the Pro Bowl of all things.
Despite a slow start to last season for his normally high standards—having missed 3 games with a concussion early on, Leonard caught fire for the Colts and was once again one of the league’s best linebackers to end the season—earning 2nd-Team All-Pro honors.
He finished with 121 tackles, 5.0 sacks, 5 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles in 13 starts.
He’s only one of four defensive players since 2000 to record 120+ tackles, 5.0+ sacks, and 5+ interceptions in a single season—joining Brian Urlacher (2007), Rodney Harrison (2000), and Lavonte David (2013).
The Colts long, fast, and athletic playmaking linebacker—who’s simply a stat-stuffer should thrive even more next season, playing behind new All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner—who should command serious attention in the interior:
Darius Leonard says Buckner will help Dline prevent offensive lines from climbing up the field as quickly and allowing him and the LBs to patrol the field and make more plays.— jimayello (@jimayello) May 6, 2020
Leonard once again has set lofty expectations for himself in 2020, but don’t bet against him because you very well might be proven wrong—if recent history is any clear indication.