INDIANAPOLIS — After living up to his nickname, "The Maniac," all season, Darius Leonard is now in possession of some serious hardware.
The Indianapolis Colts linebacker on Saturday night was named the Associated Press' 2018 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Leonard is the third player in Colts franchise history to be named AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, and joins linebackers Vernon Maxwell (1983) and Duane Bickett (1985).
The Colts' second-round (36th-overall) pick in the 2018 NFL Draft out of South Carolina State, Leonard was an instant playmaker for the new-look Indy defense in 2018.
Leonard started all 15 games he played in and finished as the NFL’s leading tackler (163) while adding 12.0 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks, eight passes defensed, two interceptions, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
He set the franchise record for tackles in a single season and his tackle total ranked third in league history for a rookie. Leonard was one of only two NFL players to ever register 160 or more total tackles and 7.0 or more sacks in a single season.
Among rookies in 2018, Leonard ranked in the top-10 in tackles (first), tackles for loss (second), sacks (second), passes defensed (ninth), interceptions (tied-seventh), forced fumbles (first) and fumble recoveries (tied-first).
Leonard earned numerous awards this season, including AFC Defensive Player of the Month (December), AFC Defensive Player of the Week (Week 2, Week 17), Defensive Rookie of the Month (September) and NFL Rookie of the Week (Week 2, Week 8).
Leonard in 2018 also joined guard Quenton Nelson to become the first rookie teammates to be named First-Team All-Pro since Pro Football Hall of Famers Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers (Chicago, 1965).
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