The rookie quarterbacks have everyone excited, with some confidence that Mayfield, Allen et al will be NFL and fantasy stars in the years to come. But the 2018 NFL Draft produced a couple of elite rookie defenders, too, and those players could also be franchise guys going forward.

Colts linebacker Darius Leonard leads the NFL in tackles, with 12 more than 2nd-place Telvin Smith (who's now played one additional game). Leonard missed a game earlier in the year, just highlighting how impressive his 123 total tackles (and 6 sacks) are.

But Leonard isn't a lock to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, because Cowboys' first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch has been similarly impressive. Vander Esch ranks 5th in the league in total tackles (102) while intercepting 2 passes; he was huge in the upset win over the Saints last Thursday. And he wasn't even a starter the first month of the season.

Going over 100 tackles as a rookie is impressive. Since 2000, only 41 other players have done it; slightly more than 2 per season. Nobody made it there last year. In 2018, though, two have already done it, and there are five more guys who, with four games left in the season, will probably make it to that total. They're included at the bottom of the below table.

YearPlayerPos SoloAst Tot
2007Patrick Willis, S.F.ILB 13539174
2012Luke Kuechly, Car.MLB 10361164
2013Kiko Alonso, Buff.MLB 8772159
2006DeMeco Ryans, Hou.MLB 12530155
2012Bobby Wagner, Sea.MLB 8753140
2007Jon Beason, Car.MLB 10634140
2012Lavonte David, T.B.OLB 11227139
2014C.J. Mosley, Balt.ILB 8944133
2009Brian Cushing, Hou.OLB 8647133
2008Jerod Mayo, N.E.ILB 10028128
2013Paul Worrilow, Atl.OLB 7948127
2012Vontaze Burfict, Cin.OLB 7354127
2007David Harris, NYJILB 9037127
2006Ernie Sims, Det.OLB 8143124
2018Darius Leonard, Ind.OLB 8142123
2010T.J. Ward, Clev.SS 9528123
2009James Laurinaitis, St.L.MLB 10713120
2006A.J. Hawk, G.B.OLB 8237119
2013Alec Ogletree, St.L.OLB 9423117
2005Kirk Morrison, Oak.LB 9125116
2004D.J. Williams, Den.OLB 8133114
2015Stephone Anthony, N.O.MLB 7042112
2015Landon Collins, NYGFS 8428112
2003Nick Barnett, G.B.MLB 8626112
2006Thomas Howard, Oak.OLB 8822110
2014Preston Brown, Buff.OLB 6643109
2016Deion Jones, Atl.MLB 7533108
2014Chris Borland, S.F.ILB 8424108
2004Jonathan Vilma, NYJMLB 7730107
2016Keanu Neal, Atl.SS 7234106
2005Kerry Rhodes, NYJSS 8520105
2014Telvin Smith, Jac.ILB 7232104
2013Johnathan Cyprien, Jac.SS 8717104
2012Harrison Smith, Minn.FS 7430104
2006Donte Whitner, Buff.SS 6737104
2005Lofa Tatupu, Sea.MLB 8519104
2004Madieu Williams, Cin.FS 8617103
2018Leighton Vander Esch, DallOLB 7725102
2004Teddy Lehman, Det.OLB 7527102
2003Mike Doss, Ind.SS 7329102
2010Alterraun Verner, Tenn.CB 8516101
2004Erik Coleman, NYJFS 7327100
2002Chris Cash, Det.CB 8713100
2018Fred Warner, S.F.MLB 662692
2018Roquan Smith, Chi.ILB 682391
2018Jessie Bates, Cin.FS 592887
2018Tremaine Edmunds, Buff.MLB 562682
2018Derwin James, LACFS 562581

Can Leonard catch Patrick Willis (174) for the top total this century? Probably not; he'd need to average 13 tackles in his final four games to do it. But he'll almost certainly finish in the top 5.

--Andy Richardson