Darius Leonard Draft Profile

Darius Leonard draft profile

Strengths:

  • Excellent reactive athleticism
  • Length–long angular frame
  • Pads stay square to the line
  • Patient tackler
  • 4-years of great production
  • Eyes process quickly
  • Elite closing speed and outstanding sideline-to-sideline range
  • Fluid in zone drops or when matching up in man coverage
  • Effective playing off of blocks and finding the ball carrier
  • Has six career interceptions
  • Was dominant against Clemson in 2016 (19 tackles registered)

Analysis: Darius Leonard is an outside linebacker who can fit as either a 3-4 inside backer or 4-3 WILL. He has packed on the pounds since hitting campus, but it hasn’t compromised his play speed as he has posted dominant production throughout. A four-year starter, Leonard posted insane numbers during his time as SC State, like 19 tackles against a Top 5 Clemson team in 2016. He is athletic and possesses elite length. He is technically sound, keeping his pads square and always in position to make a tackle. He reads the quarterback and the offense every play and his closing speed gives him sideline-to-sideline range. His ability to cover can get him on the field as a rookie. Solid in zone coverage, he understands his assignments and where he is supposed to be. He could be even better in man coverage due to his speed and footwork–he can hang with tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. Six interceptions during his career.

Weaknesses:

  • Lacks NFL play strength
  • Doesn’t always take efficient routes around traffic in his pursuit
  • Play demeanor lacks aggression usually spotted at linebacker
  • Relies on athleticism to slip blocks on second level rather than racing downhill ahead of them
  • Can still improve instincts and pattern reading in man coverage
  • Needs more aggression behind his hits
  • After adding 50 pounds during his stay in college, his frame may be beginning to max out

Analysis: No doubt Darius Leonard is one of the more athletic linebackers in the draft, but his strength leaves a lot to be desired. He has already put on a massive amount of weight during his college career, so scouts question whether his frame is maxed out and the strength he has now is his limit. If that is the case, we know Leonard will struggle to shed blocks at the next level. If a stronger, more powerful lineman gets his hands on Leonard he can be ridden right out of the play. Leonard needs to show more of a ‘mean streak’ at the next level–his hit power is lacking and can struggle to bring down powerful ball carriers. Angles of pursuit are not efficient.

What the scouts say: “He’s a good worker and good learner and I think he has a chance to be a war daddy once he has an NFL training table and strength program behind him.” – AFC area scout

Size: 6’2 213lbs

Draft Grade: 3rd round

NFL Comparison: Kendell Beckwith

Draft Projection: Round 3

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