Darius Leonard

South Carolina St.
OLB

Prospect Info

College
South Carolina St.
Hometown
Class
Lake View, SC
Senior
Height
Weight
Arms
6' 2"
234 lbs
34 3/8”
Hands
10 1/4”

Prospect Grade

5.81
Chance to Become NFL Starter
How We Grade

2018 Draft Results

Drafted by
Indianapolis
Colts
Round 2 ‧ Pick 4
40 Yard Dash
4.7
Seconds
 
Bench Press
17
Reps
 
Vertical Jump
--
INCHES
 
Broad Jump
--
INCHES
 
3 Cone Drill
--
Seconds
 
20 Yd Shuttle
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60 Yd Shuttle
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Playlist

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.
By Lance Zierlein
NFL Analyst
Draft Projection
Rounds 2-3
NFL Comparison
Wesley Woodyard
Overview
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.
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
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

News

Path to the Draft

Final quick-snap 2018 NFL Draft grades for all 32 teams

Best and most worrisome picks from the 2018 NFL Draft

Winners and losers from Round 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft

Winners and losers from Rounds 2, 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft

GRADE
9.00-10
Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99
Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99
Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49
Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99
Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49
Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99
Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49
NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19
Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00
50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99
Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74
Chance to be in an NFL training camp
NO GRADE
Likely needs time in developmental league