Making All-Pro as rookies in the NFL makes you pretty damn indispensable. NFL.com agrees.
In a compilation of the nine most indispensable players on each side of the ball heading into this season, both Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard found their way on the lists.
We’ll start with Leonard, who came in at number 8:
“8) Darius Leonard, LB, Indianapolis Colts
Talk about a stat-stuffer … Last year, Leonard piled up 163 tackles, seven sacks, four forced fumbles and two picks — as a rookie. Good grief. He’s the ultimate playmaker and young leader for a Colts defense that flipped the script last season. Indy ranked 30th in points and yards allowed in 2017. Then last year, with the rookie linebacker as the defensive centerpiece, the Colts vaulted to 10th in points and 11th in yards.
Leonard loves playing for Matt Eberflus and Frank Reich. And he’s the kind of high-character, highly productive star who changes the culture of a team.”
It’s still insane to think about April 2018 hearing the Colts drafted Darius Leonard from South Carolina State, and everyone, I mean EVERYONE, saying, “Who??”
I mean the guy wasn’t even invited to the Combine, and now here he is winning awards and doing things that only the likes of Dick Butkus has done.
Nelson comes in even higher than that. He finds himself 4th most indispensable on offense. 4th!
“4) Quenton Nelson, OG, Indianapolis Colts
It was hardly a coincidence Andrew Luck — and the Colts as a whole — returned to prominence when Nelson entered the fray. With the No. 6 overall pick earning first-team All-Pro honors in Year 1, Luck finally had the dominant offensive lineman in front of him that the prior regime failed to bring aboard for years. Nelson gave Luck time to be sensational (the QB was sacked just 18 times, as opposed to 41 when he was last healthy in 2016), made good running backs great (Marlon Mack blossomed in Year 2) and helped bring cohesion to the entire line.
Oh, and the Colts shocked many by winning nine of their last 10 regular-season games and marching to the Divisional Round of the playoffs.”
You know who is not on the offensive list?
This is almost the age-old debate of what came first? The chicken or the egg? The chicken went 4-12 the year before without the egg, so I think this is my way of saying yes, Quenton Nelson is incredible and was vital to turning around the Colts offensive line last year, but if Quenton Nelson is the quarterback for Jacoby Brissett, I really don’t think the Colts go on the run they do last year.
Still, having two guys who are both going into only their second season in the NFL on the list is something that probably 31 other GMs and teams would want to have.
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