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INDIANAPOLIS – It sounds like hyperbole, but it shouldn’t be viewed that way.

Through two NFL seasons, Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard have had Hall of Fame starts to their careers.

If the duo keeps this up, and the longevity element of their careers is eventually reached, Nelson and Leonard will find a home in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day.

Nelson and Leonard will play (and start) in this weekend’s Pro Bowl, and that is just another accolade on an already long list for the duo.

The second NFL season Nelson brought another first-team All-Pro honor. Since 1970, Nelson is just the 7th player to be named first-team All-Pro in each of his first two seasons. He’s the first to do it since 2006-07 (Chicago’s Devin Hester).

“Pretty special,” Chris Ballard says of the dominant left guard. “Q is unique, not only as a player but as a teammate. You all don’t get to see the raw stuff right after a game a win or a loss. I love going in the locker room. You hate it after the losses, but when you see this kid’s care factor, it’s like somebody shot him when things don’t go well for us. It is a deep hurt and it’s infectious. So fortunate to have him and he’ll continue to get better. He hasn’t reached his ceiling yet.”

For Leonard, he followed up a first-team All-Pro award as a rookie by making the second team in 2019.

If it weren’t for Leonard missing three games this past season, he certainly would have made the first team for a second straight year.

Leonard’s playmaking from the linebacker spot has reached a historic level.

“He’s a natural playmaker,” Ballard says of The Maniac. “You saw it in college. He took the ball away and made plays in college, and that hasn’t changed. Reminds me of (former Bears safety) Charles Tillman. Tillman was the same way in college, they found ways to strip ball, take the ball away.”

Certainly, many games and years lie ahead before Nelson and Leonard can be crowned Hall of Famers.

But there’s no debate that the trajectory they are on is on a path headed straight for Canton.

“Those two are really special, special players and young men,” Ballard says.


Along with Nelson and Leonard, Ryan Kelly (via an alternate) and Jack Doyle (via an alternate) will play in the 2020 Pro Bowl this Sunday at 3:00 PM on ABC. It’s the most Pro Bowlers for the Colts since the 2014 season.