According to PFF, Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard has earned ‘PFF 2021 NFL Midseason All-Pro Second Team’ honors—coming in just behind their First-Team’s De’Vondre Campbell:
LB DE’VONDRE CAMPBELL, GREEN BAY PACKERS
Second Team: Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts
Per PFF, Leonard is currently the NFL’s 9th best graded linebacker with a +74.1 overall grade—featuring a +85.6 run defense and +84.6 pass rushing grade respectively.
As a 3x NFL All-Pro, Leonard has 67 tackles (40 solo), 3 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 5 passes defensed, and 4 forced fumbles during all 9 starts in the 2021 campaign:
Darius Leonard is the 1st player in #NFL history to have 4 FF, 3 FR, and 2 INTs in the 1st 9 games of a season pic.twitter.com/t2sQJtu54O— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) November 5, 2021
While Leonard clearly isn’t 100% this season—having been battling through a surgically repaired ankle from the offseason that hasn’t quite fully healed (but is progressing), he continues to make a meaningful impact on the field and is heating up as a dark horse candidate in the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year conversations.
Namely, because of his unique ability to generate turnovers—particularly as it relates to punching out the football from opposing ball carriers as the Maniac’s ‘football superpower’.
It was on full display once again this past Thursday Night on primetime during the Colts’ convincing victory against the New York Jets:
FUMBLE! Darius Leonard's punchout is a work of art.@dsleon45 | @colts pic.twitter.com/JD8bfTouBa— NFL (@NFL) November 5, 2021
.@Colts @dsleon45 turns routine looking plays into “game changing” plays with his unique skill set. 13th forced fumble in 4 years to go along with his sacks and interceptions and tackles . His resume’ is growing weekly. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/N7VmaEUTqC— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) November 5, 2021
Darius Leonard goes by “Maniac” for a reason. pic.twitter.com/t8ums5IQKU— PFF Bet (@PFF_Bet) November 5, 2021
Leonard is one of the league’s top linebackers, and even though he’s labored some this season through injury, he remains one of the best in the business—continuing to make plays sideline-to-sideline and force key takeaways for the Colts defense.
In my humble opinion, he has a ‘first-team’ resume—not second.