INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts have plenty of young talent on their roster.
But they also have some of the best of the best young talent in the entire National Football League.
That fact was confirmed last season, when two of Indy’s rookies — one on each side of the ball — were named First-Team All-Pro, a feat accomplished by first-year teammates only one other time in NFL history; that happened to be in 1965, when two future Pro Football Hall of Famers — Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers — had historical rookie years for the Chicago Bears.
And now, those two 2018 rookies in Indianapolis — guard Quenton Nelson and linebacker Darius Leonard — hope to continue down the same path blazed by Butkus and Sayers more than five decades ago.
They’re already off to a good start for Year 2.
Pro Football Focus recently released its “Top 25 NFL Players Under 25” list for the 2019 season, which unsurprisingly features both Nelson and Leonard.
You can see the entire list by clicking here, but here’s what PFF’s Mark Chichester had to write about both second-year Colts’ prospects heading forward:
G QUENTON NELSON, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Age at kickoff: 23 YEARS, 5 MONTHS, 18 DAYS
The former Notre Dame standout allowed just 23 pressures on 730 pass-blocking snaps in 2018, and his resulting pressure percentage of 3.4% ranked 12th among guards with at least 200 snaps last year. Nelson finished a superb rookie season with an overall grade of 74.3 and a pass-blocking grade of 81.9, good for sixth and 13th among guards last year, respectively. He’ll be a key cog in the ever-evolving Colts machine for years to come.
LB DARIUS LEONARD, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Age at kickoff: 24 YEARS, 1 MONTH, 10 DAYS
While Leonard’s raw tackle totals jumped off the page throughout his rookie season, they shouldn’t take away from an incredibly promising performance in all facets of the game. He earned overall grades north of 70.0 as a run defender (70.8), a tackler (85.4), pass rusher (73.4) and as a coverage defender (84.8). He’ll be a key component of Matt Eberflus’ defense moving forward.
The Colts’ two selections on this list are tied for the most in the AFC South, as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue and cornerback Jalen Ramsey also made the cut (linebacker Myles Jack was on the “Just Missed” list).
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson was also listed, while the Tennessee Titans had no selections.
PFF’s “Top 25 Under 25” list also features several key playmakers that reside on teams on the Colts’ 2019 schedule, including: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara and cornerback Marshon Lattimore, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard, Los Angeles Chargers edge rusher Joey Bosa and safety Derwin James and Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones.
The Cleveland Browns, who will be visiting Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind., for a couple days of joint practices with the Colts on Aug. 14-15, have a whopping four players on the list: quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Kareem Hunt, edge rusher Myles Garrett and cornerback Denzel Ward.