INDIANAPOLIS — Back in 1965, the Chicago Bears’ Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers would become the first rookie teammates in NFL history to be named First-Team All-Pro by the Associated Press.
They would each parlay their successful rookie seasons into Hall of Fame careers.
Fifty-three years later, that accomplishment has finally met its match, as Indianapolis Colts rookies Darius Leonard and Quenton Nelson today were named as AP First-Team All-Pro selections.
Leonard and Nelson join Alan Ameche (1955), Milt Davis (1957) and Edgerrin James (1999) as the only Colts rookies to be selected AP First-Team All-Pro.
Here’s more on both Leonard and Nelson’s historic rookie seasons from Colts PR:
» Leonard, 6-2, 234 pounds, 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 ranks third in league history for a rookie. Leonard is 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 this season, he 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).
» Nelson, 6-5, 330 pounds, started all 16 games at left guard and played all 1,136 of the Colts’ offensive snaps this season. He was part of an offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL (18) and had the lowest sacks allowed per pass attempt rate (2.7 percent) this season. Nelson assisted with an offense that ranked in the top-10 in points per games (27.1, fifth), yards per game (386.2, seventh) and passing yards per game (278.8, sixth). From Weeks 5-12, quarterback Andrew Luck attempted 239 passes without being sacked, which was the third-longest streak in NFL history. Nelson also helped pave the way for running back Marlon Mack to register four 100-yard rushing games in 2018.
Nelson became the first Colts rookie offensive lineman selected to the Pro Bowl since guard Chris Hinton in 1983. He was the first Indianapolis offensive lineman selected to the Pro Bowl since center Jeff Saturday in 2010. Nelson was also named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for October. He became the first guard in NFL history and the seventh offensive lineman overall to win Rookie of the Month honors.