INDIANAPOLIS — Darius Leonard celebrated his 25th birthday today, and tonight, he was once again recognized by his peers as one of the best players in the NFL.
The Indianapolis Colts star linebacker was just revealed as the 50th-best player in the league in the NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2020" list, which is voted on by players across the NFL.
It's Leonard's second-career "NFL Top 100" selection; he ranked 26th in last year's countdown.
Leonard is also the second Colts player to earn a spot on this year's show, as defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who was acquired by the team in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers back in March, came in at No. 56 a little earlier tonight.
Leonard continued to pile up game-changing plays in bunches in 2019. In 13 games, he collected 121 total tackles (seven for a loss) with five interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), seven passes defensed, two forced fumbles, five sacks and six quarterback hits. According to Pro Football Reference, it was just the ninth time since at least 1982 that a player has accumulated at least five sacks and five interceptions in a single season.
Leonard, who earned his first-career Pro Bowl selection in 2019, was also named Second-Team All-Pro, following up his massive first NFL season, when he was named First-Team All-Pro and the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year.
In fact, Leonard's first two NFL seasons have been downright historic. He has 284 total tackles (19 for a loss) with seven interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), 15 passes defensed, six forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, 12 sacks and 14 quarterback hits, and is one of just three players in the NFL since at least 1982 to accumulate at least 200 tackles and 10 sacks in their first two seasons, joining former Colts Pro Bowler Duane Bickett and Pro Football Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher.
In fact, Leonard is the only player in NFL history to collect at least 284 tackles, 12 sacks and seven interceptions in their first two seasons, according to Pro Football Reference.
Leonard is now the third Colts defensive player to be named to the "NFL Top 100" list multiple times since the show's inception in 2011, joining pass rushers Robert Mathis (three selections in Indy) and Dwight Freeney (two selections).
The "Top 100 Players of 2020" countdown continues tonight with Nos. 49-41 until 11 p.m. ET.
Nos. 40-31 (8 p.m.), 30-21 (9 p.m.) and 20-11 (10 p.m.) will be revealed Tuesday night, while the countdown concludes with Nos. 10-6 (8 p.m.) and 5-1 (9 p.m.) on Wednesday night.