Three Colts Named among Best in NFL at Their Positions

According to Bleacher Report, Colts guard Quenton Nelson, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, and linebacker Darius Leonard are among the best in the NFL at their positions.
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It appears that the Indianapolis Colts have some studs on the roster.

Through the process of investing and hitting on early-round draft picks, the Colts have built a well-rounded roster with several long-term building blocks incorporated.

However, there are a few players that especially stand out.

By your Holmes-like investigation skills, you've probably deduced that I'm talking about three of the Colts' All-Pros; guard Quenton Nelson, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, and linebacker Darius Leonard.

According to Bleacher Report, those three are at or near the top of the NFL at their position.

Sep 13, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Indianapolis Colts offensive guard Quenton Nelson (right) guards Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Abry Jones (left) during the second half at TIAA Bank Field.

Guard: Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts

What more can you ask for from Indianapolis Colts guard Quenton Nelson, who has been a first-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler in all three of his NFL seasons and should only get better in his age-25 campaign?

The 2018 No. 6 overall pick has missed only a handful of snaps in his career, and he's given up a paltry three sacks on 1,822 career pass-blocking snaps, according to PFF. His 90.8 PFF grade since coming into the league leads all qualified guards.

He's good enough to make a massive impact at tackle if the Colts eventually choose to kick him outside in light of Anthony Castonzo's retirement, although it looks as though that won't be necessary right now with Sam Tevi and Eric Fisher joining the fray.

Regardless, he towers over fellow distinguished guards Joel Bitonio and Brandon Scherff, both of whom are several years older and haven't been as consistently awesome.

As BR mentioned, Nelson has earned First-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in each of his first three years. He's exceeded expectations considering many people said a team shouldn't take an interior offensive lineman as high as the top 10 picks.

He's started all 48 regular-season games and three postseason games with the Colts. In that time, Nelson has seen 2,073 pass-blocking snaps and allowed just 3 sacks and 11 quarterback hits, according to Pro Football Focus. He also has a career-average run-blocking grade of 85.7, which is comfortably elite.

Since Nelson's arrival, he's helped take an abysmal offensive line and helped totally transform its mentality as the group has become one of the most formidable in the NFL.

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Jan 9, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) throws under pressure against Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (99) during the first half in the AFC Wild Card game at Bills Stadium.

Honorable mention: DeForest Buckner, Indianapolis Colts

The Colts coughed up the 13th-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for Buckner. As a result, they were rewarded with arguably the best defensive tackle in the NFL not named "Aaron Donald," and he gave the Colts arguably the best season of his career.

In 15 games, Buckner totaled 58 tackles (10 for loss), 9.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery 3 pass breakups, and 26 quarterback hits.

For his efforts, in 2020 Buckner was honored with First-Team All-Pro, PFWA All-NFL Team, PFWA All-AFC Team, and 2020 Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year honors.

Similar to Nelson's impact on the offensive line, Buckner's presence has elevated everyone's play around him. With the Colts adding a pair of stud rookies in this year's draft to the line, Buckner's example should help the Colts' defensive line be total chaos for opponents.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) tries to elude Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard (53) in a 2019 game at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field.

Honorable mention: Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts

And while Leonard is one of the league's top defensive playmakers, he hasn't been durable or consistent enough to take this crown.

They don't often make 'em as productive as Leonard.

Through his first three seasons, Leonard's numbers are nearly unrivaled, totaling 416 tackles (26 for loss), 15.0 sacks, 9 forced fumbles, 4 fumbles recovered, 7 interceptions, 22 pass breakups, and 1 touchdown in 42 games.

Leonard has been named Defensive Rookie of the Year, a two-time First-Team All-Pro, a Second-Team All-Pro, and a two-time Pro Bowler.

He is the vocal heart and soul of the Colts defense, and they are noticeably different when he isn't present on the field.

Are these guys the best in the NFL at their positions? Drop your thoughts below in the comment section!

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