South Carolina State Standout Linebacker Darius Leonard
On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Eagles signed former Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions linebacker Paul Worrilow to a one-year deal. The signing of Worrilow will add depth to the Eagles defensive unit. The 27-year-old will join Corey Nelson as the second linebacker signed this offseason. As a result, questions remain about Mychal Kendricks future with the Eagles. The Eagles could look to trade Kendricks during draft weekend to acquire more picks. While the linebacker position isn’t a top need for the Eagles it’s certainly a position they will look to address. One prospect that could fit is South Carolina State standout linebacker Darius Leonard.
Darius Leonard had dreams of following in the footsteps of his half-brother Anthony Waters and playing for the Clemson Tigers. However, Clemson did not offer Leonard a scholarship. South Carolina State would offer him a scholarship and in 2013 he came to the program with a chip on his shoulder. The Linebacker would waste no time in making his impact known for the Bulldogs. As a redshirt freshman in 2014, he led South Carolina State with 86 tackles and five sacks. In 2016 Leonard was named the MEAC Defensive player of the year. He recorded 124 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and two interceptions.
Leonard was just as good during his final season with the Bulldogs. He recorded 113 tackles and eight sacks and would be named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row. Furthermore, the former Bulldog was recognized as a finalist for the Buck Buchanon award which is awarded to the FCS top defensive player of the year. Leonard finished his career with the school record for tackles with 395.
Darius Leonard Film/Thread
LB South Carolina St 6’2” 213. He played against a lower level of competition, but dominated and was the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2016. He is very athletic and strong but has poor footwork@49ersHive @FPC_NFL #DariusLeonard #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/UcTEeN7WNn
— John Chapman (@JL_Chapman) March 3, 2018
Playing With a Chip on His Shoulder
Leonard arrived at South Carolina State weighing just 180 pounds. By the time he left Leonard would weigh 234 pounds. In 2016 he received the opportunity to play against Clemson and he took advantage. Despite losing the game Leonard recorded 19 tackles. The two-time MEAC defensive player of the year received a combine invitation and he ran a 4.7 forty time. Following his outstanding senior season, Leonard was invited to compete at the Reeses Senior Bowl. At the end of the game, the South Carolina Linebacker would record 14 tackles.
What Can Leonard Bring to the Eagles?
Leonard was one of 30 players to meet with the Eagles as part of the pre-draft visits. The MEAC defensive player of the year has potential to be a three-down linebacker. He has the versatility to play in a 3-4 alignment or play the WILL position in a 4-3. While he still has to work on getting bigger and stronger to adjust to the NFL, the former Bulldog has the potential to be a very solid player.
The 6-foot-2 Linebacker displayed coverage skills as well as a nonstop motor on the field. If the Eagles are able to acquire a day two pick Leonard would certainly be a nice addition. Even though Clemson did not offer him a scholarship, South Carolina State Standout Linebacker Darius Leonard is ready to shine at the next level.
— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) November 11, 2017
Featured image by MBShuler via Flickr