Ed "Pi Double i" Henderson
Who is the 6-foot-2-inch 234 pound Darius Leonard?
Leonard is a highly talented tackling machine where he led South Carolina State University in tackles. His freshman season, he recorded 86 tackles (14 tackles for loss) two forced fumbles and five sacks. His sophomore season he had 70 tackles (13 ½ for loss), five sacks and two interceptions earning him the MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference), All First Team. In his junior season, he was selected as the MEAC 2016 Defensive Player of the Year posting 124 tackles (14 ½ for loss), three and a half sacks, two interceptions, four forced fumbles, and three pass break-ups. The 2017 season he amassed 113 tackles (eight tackles for loss), eight sacks, one pass deflection, two interceptions and one forced fumble. NFL scouts have remarkably impressed with Leonard talent as he has been seeing flying all over the field. Nothing was more impressive than his performance at the 2017 Senior Bowl, by showing the ability to cover in passing play and the ability to run sideline to sideline making tackles on ball carriers. He is the younger brother of former NFL linebacker Anthony Waters who was drafted in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers, played with the Buffalo Bills, and New Orlean Saints.
Darius Leonard Highlights
Leonard has a long and athletic linebacker with a body frame that hard for blockers to block him squarely. Here’s a kid who had the determination of playing Division I football, gained about 50 pounds and have unbelievable pursuit to the ball carrier with loose fluid hips. Fast hands when engaged in a block. A very disciplined player with the ability to shake off second level blockers, and remain in control of runners who may cut back to different gaps. Good tackler, double-digit in losses each of his four seasons, and even recorded over 100 tackles twice in his career. Has an ability to run sideline to sideline with outstanding closing speed. Has great recognition of plays and reacts well to the ball and ball carrier. Had a career-high of 19 tackles against the Clemson Tigers who won the 2016 BCS Championship. He is average in pass coverage while in man coverage. Is a great fit for a 3-4 or 4-3 defense.
NFL Scout has some concerns about Leonard’s body, expecting that he may have peaked out in arms and chest sizes. Concerns are can he get stronger and play with the needed strength in the NFL as a linebacker especially when taking on linemen. Leonard has to rely on his athleticism to slip blocks, rather engaging and making tackles, which leaves him not taking efficient routes. A good hitter who loves to hit but lacks play strength. Will need to get stronger at the pad level. Needs to focus on pass coverage, not exactly his strongest suit. Leonard also struggles at taking the wrong angles, easily out of position against bulkier guards.
Is he a fit for the Rams?
Yes, a great fit to play the inside linebacking position. HIs size may be of some concern but Wade Phillips will know how to utilize his skills and talent. If he can bigger in size, he will become a force int he middle with his sideline to sideline pursuit. Love to tackle and not afraid to stick his head in any play. Because of his size, some teams may shy away from him in the earlier rounds and may slide back into the third round when the Los Angeles Rams select. Not certain if he’s even on their board, but they can’t pass up the talented kid if all other linebackers are selected at that point.
2nd (late) -3rd Round
Wesley Woodyard, Tennessee Titans