For the third consecutive season, Colts linebacker Darius Leonard was recognized Sunday as one of the NFL's best players.
Leonard checked in at No. 37 in NFL Network's Top 100 Players Of 2021 list, which is voted on by players. Leonard previously ranked 26th and 50th in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
The Colts signed Leonard to a contract extension earlier in training camp, keeping the two-time first-team All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler in Indianapolis for the long haul.
"Darius brings the juice to another level. He's a playmaker at another level," head coach Frank Reich said. "We think he is tops in the league at what he does. Thank you to Mr. (Jim) Irsay and to Chris Ballard for getting that done and rewarding a player that is truly one of the greats in this league. We're happy to have him on our team."
Leonard is one of two players since tackles became an official stat in the 1980s to have 400+ tackles and 10+ sacks over his first three seasons in the NFL; Leonard enters 2021 with 416 tackles and 15 sacks. The 2018 second round pick also has seven interceptions and 15 pass break-ups; only one linebacker (Cleveland/Jacksonville's Joe Schobert) has had more interceptions than Leonard over the last three seasons.
"Right from the jump I got called the worst draft pick, and (the Colts) believed in me since Day 1," Leonard said. "I tried to come out day in, day out and prove that they have someone special. I haven't done anything yet. I have to continue to show they got somebody and keep showing the doubters that they're wrong."