Colts linebacker Darius Leonard wasn’t taken in the first round of the 2018 draft, but he’d likely hear his name called a lot earlier if that were to be redone after getting a look at last year’s rookie class in action.
Leonard played a major role in lifting the Colts defense back to being a capable unit during the 2018 season and that turnaround played a big part in the Colts going from 1-5 to 10-6 and a Wild Card spot.
Leonard led the league with 163 tackles to go with seven sacks, two interceptions and four forced fumbles in 15 appearances as a rookie. That led the Associated Press voters to select him as 2018’s defensive rookie of the year.
Chargers safety Derwin James, Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, Browns cornerback Denzel Ward and Broncos linebacker Bradley Chubb also had strong debut seasons as professionals, but Leonard stuck out above the rest.