Friday Fun Fact: Darius Leonard Is In Elite Company

In our first edition of Friday Fun Fact, we look at just how remarkable the first three seasons of Darius Leonard's career have been. 

What Darius Leonard has done through three seasons has been nearly unprecedented in recent NFL history.

So here's today's fun fact: Darius Leonard is one of two players* with 400 or more tackles and 10 or more sacks over his first three seasons in the NFL.

Leonard totaled 416 tackles and 15 sacks from 2018-2020, joining Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David (430 tackles, 10 sacks from 2012-2014) as the only players to have so much early success making tackles and bringing down opposing quarterbacks. 

And no player with 400 or more tackles in his first three seasons has also had more sacks than Leonard. 

*Statistics via Stathead.com. Tackles were not tallied by the NFL until 1994 and not officially totaled until 2001. Stathead's tackle data does goes back into the 1980s, though this list is not exhaustive in NFL history.

Leonard is one of 10 players since 1984 to have over 400 tackles in his first three seasons. The full list:

  • Luke Kuechly (Panthers, 2012-2014): 473
  • Patrick Willis (49ers, 2007-2009): 467
  • Steve Atwater (Broncos, 1989-1991): 452
  • Kyle Clifton (Jets, 1984-1986): 447
  • Lavonte David (Buccaneers, 2012-2014): 430
  • Jon Beason (Panthers, 2007-2009): 419
  • Zach Thomas (Dolphins, 1996-1998): 419
  • Darius Leonard (Colts, 2018-2020): 416
  • Ray Lewis (Ravens, 1996-1998): 414
  • Jerod Mayo (Patriots, 2008-2010): 405

Atwater and Lewis are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame; guys like Kuechly, Willis, Thomas and Mayo are among the biggest names at linebacker over the last few decades.

If we dial back the number of tackles to 375+ and increase the total sacks to 15+ over a player's first three years, we also get this list, just to drive home the elite company in which Leonard resides:

  • Duane Bickett (Colts, 1985-1987): 19 sacks, 398 tackles
  • Brian Urlacher (Bears, 2000-2002): 18.5 sacks, 395 tackles
  • Darius Leonard (Colts, 2018-2020): 15 sacks, 416 tackles

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