An NFL team meeting with individual players is a significant part of the draft process. These meetings can happen at the NFL Combine, pro days, the Senior Bowl or a private workout.
For fans following the process, these meetings are sort of like poker tells for the draft, as they indicate what positions a team could be focusing on. Do teams draft players they haven't met? Yes, they do. It happens all the time, but they have often spoken to other players at that position.
So far, teams have had access to players at the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl. The Ravens met with South Carolina State ILB Darius Leonard at the Senior Bowl. Let's get to know him better.
Tale of the Tape:
Weight: 213 pounds
Strengths: Leonard can play inside linebacker or outside linebacker in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. He's well balanced, with the ability to play in space and cover downfield. He has NFL strength and balance that can set the edge if needed. He is a smart player and a polished tackler who rarely takes a bad angle. During his senior season in 2017, Leonard recorded 114 tackles with 12 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, one pass batted, two interceptions and one forced fumble.
Areas for Improvement: On tape, there is little to not like. He did play against a lower level of competition at South Carolina State, but he was terrific during Senior Bowl week.
Other Notes: Leonard was a 2017 Walter Camp All-American and 2017 American Football Coaches Association first-team All-American. He was also a 2016 and 2017 MEAC Defensive Player of the Year. Leonard was a defensive standout at the 2017 Senior Bowl, leading the South with 14 tackles.
Draft Projection: Leonard should be a second- or third-round selection. Go watch his 2016 tape vs. Clemson; he can play at the NFL level and could be a star. He reminds me of current Houston Texans linebacker Zach Cunningham when he came out of Vanderbilt.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of South Carolina State Athletics