Leonard is a big athletic defensive lineman who shows on film good feet
and those long arms that give players a significant advantage over their
opponents. He shows good effort on every play and is a vocal leader for his
team. Leonard has the athletic talent and size to play multiple positions in any
style of defensive front. He has the quick feet and balance along with solid
change of direction skills needed to play on the inside or outside as a pass
rusher or run stuffer. He has the football intelligence, the burst to the ball
and the foot speed to run plays down from behind. He has the skills and knows
the techniques needed to stuff the run and handle the double team. Leonard has
the athletic talent, size, foot quickness and long arms to be a monster
defensive lineman for the team that selects him.
Right now Leonard is not in football shape, which explains why he has a
lot of nagging injuries. He plays through injuries and thatís commendable, but
itís also an excuse for him not to reach his potential. He struggles shedding
blocks and making tackles in the hole. He also struggles, coming off the line
and finishing plays. He settles for being doubled teamed and letting others make
tackles. He is slow off the line but does change the line of scrimmage to his
advantage on almost every play except when he is double teamed. He engages off
the line scrimmage and then stops his play to focus on what is happening in the
backfield to react instead of making his opponents react to him. Right now most
of his sacks are coverage sacks. He will make some plays, but does not control
the line of scrimmage the way you would expect a player with his athletic
ability to control.
When I look at any defensive lineman I look first to see how well they
play against the run, then I look for the athletic talent to rush the passer.
When I see both skills and talent along with size and quickness, I get excited.
When I see a player with all of this type talent that doesnít dominate, I look
to see if the reason for that lack of domination is because of the system in
which that player is playing. In this case, I see that Leonard plays in mostly a
2- gap system that sometimes makes it look like a player is not a dominant
player when in reality they are. Leonard changes the line of scrimmage then
holds his man and waits for the QB to either throw the ball, move out of the
pocket or hold on to the ball to make a play. Maybe thatís what the Trojans want
him to do. But the truth is he should be dominating and forcing players to make
mistakes and reacting to what he can do, not the other way around. With his
athletic talent, Leonard should be dominating and he is not doing that
consistently at the college level. Leonard is a boom or bust player who will
shine in all of his workouts and could be considered a top player in this draft.
The question is, will Leonard be chronically injured because of a lack of work
ethic to get into better football shape? Does Leonard really want to be a
dominating defensive lineman for the team that selects him? These are the Boom
or Bust questions.