The Colts announced a contract extension for two-time first-team All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard on Sunday.
Leonard has excelled since the Colts drafted him with the No. 36 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He led the NFL in tackles (163) en route to being named the 2018 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, and earned first-team AP All Pro honors in 2018 and 2020. Leonard also was named to the AFC Pro Bowl roster in 2019 and 2020, and was named a second-team All Pro in 2019.
With Leonard patrolling the field at linebacker, the Colts' defense ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense in 2018 and 2020 and in the top 10 in rushing yards allowed per game every year from 2018-2020.
Only one other player since tackles became a stat in the 1980's has totaled 400 or more tackles and 10 or more sacks in his first three years in the NFL, as Leonard (416 tackles, 15 sacks) has. He's also the first player since at least 1987 to rack up 300 or more tackles in his first 30 games.
Leonard, additionally, picked off seven passes and forced nine fumbles over his first three years with the Colts.
"Just getting better, watching all the bad tape and seeing how teams are trying to attack you," Leonard said earlier this year of his personal goals. "Just learning the defense to a whole other level and just being that leader, that leader that everybody needs. Now that Anthony Walker is gone, you need that person to take in that leadership role and say, 'Okay, this is what you have to do. This is the way that is has to be.' And continue to just be me, I don't think I have to change much, I just have to continue to go out each day, work day in and day out, bring the energy day in and day out and let the rookies and everybody else (know) this is the standard and this is what it is supposed to be."