South Carolina State
Leonard is a quick twitch athlete with a lanky frame. Long arms and big hands, he uses his frame and athleticism to get around blocks and catch up to ballcarriers. He is great in pursuit and usually takes good angles to the ballcarrier. He is competitively tough and never gives up on a play. Leonard is a very solid and productive tackler and plays with discipline when making plays on the ballcarrier. Leonard is as rangy as they come in this class and has rare closing speed when he sets his eyes on the ball. He is instinctive in zone coverage and is good reading the quarterback and effective in man coverage. Leonard eats slower tight ends and running backs alive in coverage.
Leonard doesn’t have great size for an NFL linebacker and has a fairly thin frame. He gets overpowered at the point of attack and doesn’t have the strength or hand technique to consistently disengage. Leonard relies on his athleticism too much when trying to get around blocks and less on his technique and discipline. He was good in college in man coverage due to his athleticism but his instincts and pattern recognition could still use improvement.
The Colts’ linebacker corps was incredibly weak last year and Chris Ballard hasn’t done much to improve it this year. The Colts could easily double up on linebackers in this draft and Leonard could be a great compliment to a guy like Tremaine Edmunds. He slots in as the weakside WILL linebacker in the Colts’ 4-3 defensive scheme. If he plays that position, his job would be to chase the ballcarrier and play cleanup, along with covering. Leonard could be a day one starter in this role.
Leonard’s length and athleticism along with his incredibly productive career will make him a hot commodity among scouts come draft day. His lack of strength and elite instincts will hold him back, combined with the fact that he ran a pretty slow 40 at the combine given his athletic ability. Leonard could be a day one starter on the right team and could hear his name called as early as the second round come draft night.
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, the AFC South Division Editor, and head NBA editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_, @FPC_NBA and @FPC_Colts.