2016 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Leonard Floyd
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Over the past three years, Floyd was one of the most consistent edge rushers in the SEC. He didn't produce huge sack totals, but Floyd was a constant sources of pass pressure on the quarterback. Other prospects like Ohio State's Joey Bosa and Oregon's DeForest Buckner have gotten more attention, but in speaking with scouts, none of them would be surprised if Floyd ends up being the top quarterback-hunter to come out of the draft class.
After spending a year at Hargrave Military Academy, Floyd burst onto the scene at Georgia as an SEC All-Freshman Team selection from 2013. He had 55 tackles with 9.5 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks in his debut season. He notched 55 tackles with six sacks, two forced fumbles and 8.5 tackles for a loss in 2014. The redshirt sophomore could have entered the 2015 NFL Draft, but he wisely returned to Georgia.
Floyd split reps between inside and outside linebacker at times during the 2015 season. While the redshirt junior handled the new duties at inside linebacker okay, he looked awkward at dropping into coverage. Sources say that Floyd won't be playing inside linebacker in the NFL. He's much better served doing what he does best: rushing the quarterback. Still, his run defense improved and he was second on the Bulldogs in tackles.
In 2015, Floyd totaled 74 tackles with 10.5 for a loss, 4.5 sacks and three passes batted. He put a lot more pressure on the quarterback than the numbers indicate. If you watch a lot of Georgia games, you will see that Floyd's pressure set up a lot of sacks for his teammates.
In some obvious passing situations, Floyd would line up with his hand in the ground. However over the past three seasons, the vast majority of snaps had Floyd as a standup linebacker at the line of scrimmage on the edge.
At the combine, Floyd put his striking athleticism on display with a 40 time of 4.60 seconds. That surprised many, but that was the 40 time I projected him to have prior to Indianapolis. However what nobody projected was the weight gain that Floyd displayed. He played in the 230s in college but was 244 pounds at the combine, and that was much heavier than expected. To maintain his excellent speed at the higher weight was huge for Floyd's draft stock.
Strength is the aspect that Floyd needed to add for the NFL. He must get tougher at defending downhill runs coming straight at him, get stronger to shed blocks in the pass rush, and have a stronger lower body to maintain his feet. Teams feel that at 6-foot-6, Floyd has the frame and length to play around 250 pounds after spending some time in a NFL strength and conditioning program.
There is a lot to like about Floyd for the next level. Perhaps his trait that stands out as the most rare is his tremendous ability to bend. Even though he has a tall, lanky frame, Floyd's ability to sink his hips and bend around the corner is ridiculous. When you add that to being extremely fast, it is easy to see why he is a natural pass-rusher. Floyd has a quick first-step and can be a lightning bolt to get upfield. He also has some variety in pass-rushing moves and an excellent feel for getting heat on the quarterback.
Away from the game, team sources say that Floyd is a small-town kid. He doesn't cause problems and loves football. So there aren't off-the-field-issues to worry about.
For the NFL, Floyd could fit in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. Sources from 4-3 teams say they would have Floyd play Sam (strongside) linebacker on run downs and rush him off the edge in passing situations. In that role, Floyd would be like Anthony Barr with the Vikings, or Von Miller when the Broncos played a 4-3 scheme early in Miller's career. Of course, Floyd would be a natural fit to remain a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Sources say that Floyd is getting consideration from teams picking late in the top 10. After Joey Bosa and DeForest Buckner, Floyd could be the next pass-rusher to get drafted.
Player Comparison: Anthony Barr. Team sources compared Floyd to Barr. However, they think that Floyd is more explosive and athletic than Barr, but Barr is stronger and more physical.
NFL Matches: Baltimore, Tampa Bay, New York Giants, Detroit, Oakland, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Cleveland
In the top 10, there are teams that could consider taking a pass-rusher. Perhaps the highest that Floyd could hope to go would be to the Ravens at the sixth pick. Baltimore needs a young pass-rusher as Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are aging. Floyd could be a nice scheme fit for the Ravens.
Later in the top 10, there are a couple of potential landing spots with the Buccaneers at the ninth pick or the Giants at No. 10. The Bucs badly need an edge rusher. If Joey Bosa and DeForest Buckner are off the board. Sources say Tampa Bay could give consideration to Floyd to upgrade its pass rush. With the Buccaneers, Floyd would play Sam (strongside) linebacker in running situations and rush off the edge during passing situations.
New York is in the market for some pass-rushing upgrades, and Floyd could get consideration from the Giants, but he isn't a great scheme fit for them.
In the teensm there are some options for Floyd. The Lions could use an edge rusher to pair with Ziggy Ansah. Buffalo could use a replacement for Mario Williams. Floyd could be a good scheme fit for Rob and Rex Ryan.
Oakland tried Aldon Smith last year, but obviously they can't count on him to stay on the field. The Raiders need a rusher to go with Khalil Mack. Miami has an Cameron Wake aging coming off a serious injury - a candidate to be released - and the team just saw Olivier Vernon sign elsewhere. While the Dolphins picked up Mario Williams in free agency, he's only short-term addition, so defensive end could continue to be an issue for them. However, Floyd could look too similar to bust Dion Jordan for Miami's comfort.
The Falcons badly need an edge rusher to go with Vic Beasley as they had the smallest sack total in the NFL last year. Floyd could be in play for Atlanta.
The Colts could use a difference-maker and a young pass-rusher to replace Robert Mathis. Cincinnati could use a pass-rusher to go on the other side from Carlos Dunlap, and Floyd could fit the rush linebacker role that Marvin Lewis envisioned for James Harrison.
Cleveland could use a pass-rusher to replace the bust known as Barkevious Mingo. Paul Kruger had only 2.5 sacks in 2015, so if Floyd slides in the first round, the Browns could trade up to end his fall.
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