2018 Raiders Draft Prospect Profile
Name: Darius Leonard
School: South Carolina State University
Weight: 235 pounds
53.5 Tackles for Loss
7 Passes Broken Up
6 Interceptions (Three for TD)
8 Forced Fumbles
When you watch Leonard’s film, his tackling skills opens eyes. First, he will arrive in prime position to make the stop. Next, Leonard wraps up, securing the target with a strong grip. Lastly, Leonard stays behind his pads and drives the ballcarrier to the turf with authority. Under those circumstances, Leonard brings leverage and balance into every tackle.
Leonard does not assert power the way he should. For instance, when a back runs too high, Leonard needs to thump him. Instead, he plays it safe, making the sure tackle and moving on. At the next level, Leonard needs to rely on brute force on occasion.
Although he ran a 4.7 at the Combine, Leonard plays much faster. As a result, he flies over the field to make stops. Perhaps no clearer sign is seeing him operate in the run game. When he sees the chosen gap, Leonard decided to shoot it immediately, meeting the ball carrier. In addition, he covers backs and tight ends with the same skill.
When eluding blockers, Leonard relies on his uncanny agility to slip the block. By dipping his should and bending at the waist, Leonard rolls off lineman with relative ease. For a 235 pound linebacker, Leonard gets skinny quickly and slashes under much bigger linemen
From the time Reggie McKenzie assumed control of the Raiders, the team never employed a tremendous defense. With that said, if you look at some of the linebackers that wore the Silver and Black not named Khalil Mack, you would see mammoth failures. Leonard immediately solves the need for speedy playmakers. While Nicholas Morrow enjoyed a decent rookie season, Leonard gives the Raiders an immediate upgrade all over the field. In coverage, Leonard uses speed and agility to make plays. Three of his six interceptions went for scores.
Additionally, Leonard can play downhill versus the run as well. In effect, he is the type of linebacker that any defense needs to improve. With a new defense, youth and speed could make Paul Guenther’s scheme that much better. Currently, Leonard looks like a second day pick. In reality, Leonard would start by Week 1.