According to PFF’s Sam Monson, the Indianapolis Colts have one of the league’s top 5 linebacker units—‘hitting hard’ at the 5th overall spot:
5. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
The Colts’ unit is another that feeds off the star power of an individual. Darius Leonard has been one of the best linebackers in the game since he came into the league, and while 2020 wasn’t his finest season, he still finished the year with good PFF grades of at least 67.0 in every facet of play we measure. Bobby Okereke was significantly better as a rookie than in Year 2, but if he can steady the ship after an ugly sophomore campaign, the Colts will justify this spot.
The Colts’ linebacker corps is no doubt anchored by 3x NFL All-Pro Darius Leonard, who has earned such prestigious honors in each of his three pro seasons so far.
‘The Maniac’ is arguably the league’s top young linebacker—still only 25 years old, as he’s the complete package at the position. Leonard can seemingly do it all: run, tackle, blitz, cover, and force clutch turnovers in critical game situations. He simply stuffs the stat sheet.
Meanwhile, soon-to-be 3rd year linebacker Bobby Okereke has a chance to become a Pro Bowler this year—as he’s already a major asset in coverage with his speed, change-of-direction skills, and fluidity to stick with receivers over the middle of the field. He just needs to hone in on his overall consistency to take another leap.
While it’s probably not a big issue—given the sheer amount of nickel sub-package work that the Colts will deploy defensively featuring a third safety (instead of a third linebacker), it’ll be interesting to see who starts alongside Leonard and Okereke situationally.
Zaire Franklin, Matthew Adams, and EJ Speed may be among the top candidates competing at the vacant starting linebacker spot—after veteran leader Anthony Walker left in free agency to the Cleveland Browns.
If Okereke hits his stride in 2021—along with another expected All-Pro season from #53, this is a Colts’ linebacker unit that has the chance to even ascend a few more spots into the NFL’s truly elite.