Pop quiz: What do you get when you add a defensive stud in DeForest Buckner to a unit that allowed the seventh-fewest rush yards per game (97.9) a season ago? A weekly problem for opposing offenses.
The Indianapolis Colts won't open training camp for another couple weeks but that hasn't stopped linebacker Darius Leonard from theorizing how the addition of the former 49ers defensive tackle, acquired via trade in March, will transform coordinator Matt Eberflus' group. In short, the All-Pro selection is already thoroughly impressed by his new teammate.
"Having DeForest come onto the team and help our defense out, he's a complete dog. Watching his tape, he has a motor that doesn't stop," Leonard told NFL Network's Colleen Wolfe during an appearance on NFL Total Access Monday. "You can not just focus on the linebackers, we got so many defensive linemen now that are gonna eat up on any offensive line that's in front of us. I think that's gonna allow the linebackers to run around, make more plays, take some stress off the defensive backs because they don't have to stay in coverage so long.
"I'm definitely looking forward to him coming out here and, you know, bring that dog mentality that he's had and help this defense win and be the number one defense in the NFL."
As routine as offseason hype can be, it's not hard to follow along with Leonard's vision. In 2019, the Colts' secondary surrendered 248.9 pass yards per game, the 10th-most in the NFL. A D-line that now houses Buckner, fellow ex-49er and offseason acquisition Sheldon Day and veteran stalwart Justin Houston is tailor-made to stuff runs and generate smothering pressure that influences QBs to make a wise decision and get rid of the ball quicker.
It's also worth noting Buckner hasn't missed a game in three seasons and was the only player with 40-plus QB pressures, 10-plus run stuffs and seven-plus hustle stops last year, per Next Gen Stats.
It's pretty safe to surmise that Leonard -- the only LB to rank top-20 in interceptions (5) and tackles (121) in 2019 -- will continue to impact games with his absurd versatility and speed. But Buckner's arrival could prove major for the Colts and Leonard in particular as he heads into Year 3.