INDIANAPOLIS —With 80 percent of the vote of NFL scouts and administrators, the Indianapolis Colts have been named winners of the Best NFL Draft Award for 2018 as presented by Inside the League.
The Colts grabbed honors on the strength of their selections of Notre Dame OG Quenton Nelson (1/6, Notre Dame) and LB Darius Leonard (2/36, South Carolina State). Nelson and Leonard were both named First-Team All-Pro by the Associated Press. It was the first time rookie teammates have earned that honor since 1965, when Chicago's Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers were so honored.
Nelson was also the first guard in league history named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for October. Meanwhile, Leonard led the league in tackles (163) and was named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year.. In all, the team selected 11 players in 2018, the team's largest draft haul since the draft was reduced to seven rounds in 1994.
The Cleveland Browns finished second with 13 percent of the vote, while the Chicago Bears also received votes. Other finalists were the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard was scheduled to be on hand to accept the Best NFL Draft Award on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the TEST Football Academy ITL Combine Seminar Presented by the XFL.
Launched in 2002, Inside the League (ITL) is a consulting service for the pro and college football industry. Based in Houston, ITL's Neil Stratton has run various college all-star games and works with the representation for about 70 percent of all active NFL players.
Last year, on the strength of 2018 draft picks Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, Alvin Kamara and others, the New Orleans Saints won the Best NFL Draft Award. Saints Assistant GM Jeff Ireland accepted the award and discussed the team's evaluation process at ITL's 2018 ninth annual seminar, also held at the Indiana Convention Center.
(Press release provided by Inside the League)