He’s a Maniac, Maniac…
Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard has been ranked the forty third best player on the ‘PFF50’, which features the fifty best players in the NFL right now—as #50 to #41 were first unveiled:
43. LB DARIUS LEONARD, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Few players have Leonard’s nose for the football, and his ability to perfect the “Peanut Punch” style of forcing fumbles at linebacker has made him a major problem for offenses to deal with on any given play. He generated a ridiculous seven forced fumbles last season along with four interceptions.
It’s no surprise to see ‘The Maniac’ with an appearance on this list, as the 4x NFL All-Pro continues to be one of the league’s top linebackers and elite defensive players overall since his pro debut in 2018—as a perennial NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
Leonard was PFF’s 6th best graded linebacker last season—with a +79.0 overall grade, which was highlighted by a +91.1 run defense grade.
Initially limited by a lingering ankle injury, it took Leonard a few weeks to largely regain his full range, speed, and explosiveness, but he still ended up with 122 tackles (75 solo), 4 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions, 8 passes defensed, 8 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries—as he earned NFL First-Team All-Pro honors yet again.
Coming off offseason back injury, it’ll be interesting to see if Leonard can make a full recovery—and the hope is that the corrective surgery will also remedy his still troublesome ankle injury.
However, anytime surgery occurs on the back (no matter how minor the procedure), it’s far from a given—especially for a position that requires a ton of physical contact and constant collisions.
That being said, with 12 takeaways last season, and youth still working in his favor to continue his All-Pro caliber form (turning 27 years old later this month), there’s no real reason that Leonard doesn’t belong on this list—as one of the best linebackers in the business.