Photo of DARIUS LEONARD
Grade
5.87 ?

Draft Analysis:

  • 6'2" Height
  • 213LBS. Weight

Overview

As the half-brother of former Clemson linebacker Anthony Waters, Leonard expected to one day suit up for the Tigers. Clemson only offered him a preferred walk-on invitation, however, so he decided to take the ride at SCSU. Leonard has played like an FBS recruit for the Bulldogs, playing the run inside, coming off the edge as a pass rusher, and making plays in coverage. He garnered MEAC Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2016 with 124 tackles, 14.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions, three pass break-ups, and four forced fumbles. He posted 70 stops the previous year, 13.5 for loss, five sacks, and two interceptions to earn a first-team all-conference selection. Leonard led SCSU in tackles as a redshirt freshman in 2014, compiling 86, 14 for loss, five sacks, and two forced fumbles.

Analysis

Strengths

Long, angular frame that is hard to square up for blockers. Twitchy long-strider in open field with loose hips and rare pursuit speed. Excellent reactive athleticism. Uses quick, darting shuffle steps to elude second level blockers and mirror runners cutting from gap to gap. Played with desired discipline and gap integrity in holding 2016 MEAC Offensive Player of the year and current Chicago Bear, Tarik Cohen, to his worst performance. Pads stay square to the line. Posted high-impact production for four consecutive years. Patient tackler. Blazing closing speed and outstanding sideline-to-sideline range. Eyes process quickly. Piled on 19 tackles in loss to Clemson in 2016. Effective playing off of blocks and finding the ball carrier. Fluid in zone drops or when matching up in man coverage. Has six career interceptions.

Weaknesses

After adding 50 pounds during his stay in college, his frame may be beginning to max out. Thin through arms and chest and lacks desired, NFL play strength. Has very little margin for error when taking on climbing offensive linemen. 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. Willing hitter but needs to add more pop behind his pads. Can still improve instincts and pattern reading in man coverage.

Draft Projection

Rounds 2-3

Sources Tell Us

"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

NFL Comparison

Wesley Woodyard

Bottom Line

Long and twitchy with athletic ability and straight-line speed that should light up the combine. Leonard has packed on the pounds since hitting campus, but it hasn't compromised his play speed as he has posted dominant production throughout. He lacks play strength and there are times you want to see more nasty in his field demeanor, but he has the traits and talent to become a good, three-down linebacker who can play 3-4 inside backer or 4-3 WILL.
-Lance Zierlein
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-9.00 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl to All-Pro Ability
6.50-6.99 Good NFL Starter with Pro Bowl Potential
6.00-6.49 Chance to become good NFL starter
5.70-5.99 Could become early NFL starter
5.30-5.69 Backup or eventual starter
5.15-5.29 Developmental prospect or special teams potential
5.01-5.14 Back end of the roster
5.00 50/50 Chance of making the roster

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