By Herbie Teope
Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard might have been snubbed by Pro Bowl voters, but he has more than made up for the oversight.
Leonard was named the league's 2018 Defensive Rookie of the Year at Saturday night's NFL Honors.
Since the Pro Bowl voting, which inexplicably left off Leonard, the Colts rookie went on to garner other high-profile awards, including being a first-team All-Pro selection by The Associated Press and being named Defensive Rookie of the Year by the PFWA. Saturday's award effectively caps off Leonard's monster rookie campaign.
The 6-foot-2, 234-pound Leonard, whom the Colts selected in the second round out of South Carolina State, immediately became a force on an improved Indianapolis defensive unit.
Leonard led the league in total tackles (163) and solo tackles (111), and his seven sacks ranked second in the league among rookies.
Displaying a knack to always be around the football, Leonard totaled an amazing seven games with 10 or more tackles, a feat that tied for the NFL lead. He effectively announced his presence as a tackling machine in Week 2 when Leonard recorded 19 tackles (15 solo) against the Washington Redskins.
The NFL recognized Leonard as the Defensive Rookie of the Month for September, and he was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his production in Week 2 and Week 17.
In addition to his tackles and sacks, Leonard finished his rookie season with 12 tackles for a loss, eight quarterback hits, two interceptions, eight passes defensed, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
With Leonard leading the charge, the Colts finished the 2018 regular season ranked eighth against the run, a vast uptick from the 26th spot in 2017.
Leonard's playmaking skills weren't confined to the regular season, and he put them on full display in two postseason games, recording double-digit tackles in matchups against the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs.
Given his eye-popping production, it's probably safe to say Pro Bowl voters won't forget about Leonard during the upcoming 2019 season, especially if he comes close to repeating the output when it comes time to cast ballots.
But even if the voters do, Leonard will clearly have other opportunities to earn other recognition, much like he's done in the past month.