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NFL Draft Player Profile: Leonard Floyd

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

One of the defining moments of the chaotic hours following Mark Richt's dismissal as the head coach at Georgia was the sight of Junior linebacker Leonard Floyd defiantly telling media members that he was leaving early for the NFL draft.  To be fair, everyone paying attention already knew that Floyd would not be in Athens in 2016. The trajectory of his Bulldog career seemed to demand it. Leonard Floyd tallied 6.5 sacks as a freshman in 2013, earned All-SEC honorable mention credentials in 2014, then led the team in sacks for a third straight year in 2015 on the way to being named a Butkus Award finalist.

Along the way he demonstrated potential which was both tantalizing and maddening. Early in his career the lanky Dodge County Indian flashed speed off the edge, off the charts explosiveness, but not a lot else.  Until 2015, the rap on Floyd was that he was a liability against the run game and could be counted on to take a play off here and there.

Floyd is still a long way from being beefy, but he has bulked up some. At 6'6 and 244 pounds he was one of the few players at the NFL combine who actually measured significantly larger than his college credentials indicated. With that being said, Floyd remains a rangy, fast-twitch athlete who is not going to grind it out in the trenches (though Jeremy Pruitt used him to great effect on standup A-gap blitzes). When tackles lock onto him Floyd is not going to bull rush his way into the backfield. Left unblocked however Floyd has the ability to run down just about any play sideline to sideline. His ability to make one move and free himself of blockers made him unstoppable at times during his junior season.

Floyd is also passable in coverage, where his length (he has 33 and 1/8 inch arm length, not far behind some elite left tackles) makes up for some stiffness in change of direction. I think he projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker but Floyd could also slot in as a 4-3 defensive end, especially in pass rush situations.

Several mock drafts have Floyd as a mid to late first round pick. I think that presumes that he is invaluable as an edge rusher (a pretty safe assumption) and that he develops into more of a first and second down player (a little more tenuous proposition). Floyd will be 24 in September, so unlike a lot of younger underclassmen there's not a lot of hope that he'll continue to fill out. But even with questions about whether he'll be a rock steady every down player, Floyd just had too much athleticism for teams to pass on.

Go 'Dawgs!!!