Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Breaking Down the Chicago Bears First Round Pick: Georgia LB - Leonard Floyd

The NFL Draft has come and gone, and it appears that the Bears have a plan in place. Did I agree with that plan at every twist and turn? No, not really, but I also really enjoyed some of their moves so it all balances out. And they were active, and that definitely made for an exciting weekend. But what's done is done. The picks I like will obviously work out, and hopefully my genius fails me on the picks that I didn't like. But let's break things down, starting with the Bears first round pick, Leonard Floyd, an outside linebacker (kind of) out of Georgia.

So, let me just be up front and say that this pick did not excite me when I first heard it. Grabbing an edge rusher who only manged 4.5 sacks seems like a pretty big gamble, especially when they traded up to do it. On the positive side, his athleticism is definitely there as he tested very well at the combine. I don't like to put a ton of stock in the combine, but I also think it's silly to ignore it. This was one of the most polarizing picks of the first round, so I took a look at his games against Auburn, Alabama, and Missouri to see if there was some hidden breakout potential, or if the Bears were just desperate to see something that wasn't actually there.

The first word that jumps out to describe him is long. 6'6" is really damn tall, and it shows up before his first play. But with that length, you can also tells how skinny he is. 244 sounds big, but on that sort of frame, he could definitely use some more bulk.

Once I started watching plays, it was pretty shocking how often he not only didn't rush the passer, but how often they had him lined up way away from the action to cover a slot receiver. That'd be fine if he was an asset in coverage, but he wasn't that good in coverage. At that point, the alarms are going off, because if he's not that good in coverage, but he's worthy of a top-10 pick as an edge rusher, you'd think the Georgia coaching staff would be, you know, smart enough to use him as an edge rusher. I mean, yeah, Mark Richt did get fired, but he also got hired by somebody else, so he can't possibly be that stupid. It seems the Bears are relying on the fact that Richt may be the worst coach in America, and that doesn't sound like the best plan to me.

I'm not going to dwell long on how he did against the run, as it usually wasn't pretty, and there was one play where Derrick Henry literally bowled right over him. Sadly, against Alabama, that was one of his more notable plays because it was one of the few times where he made any impact at all. Here's another chance for Floyd to square off with Henry.
Uh, yeah, that is not ideal. The Bears aren't getting him for his run stopping abilities, so I'd rather focus on where the Bears want him to win than where even the optimistic Bears expect him to struggle.

So, as for when he did pass rush, the issue that I had heard is that guys were able to lock onto him once they got their hands on him. And that definitely seemed to be the case against Alabama.
Here he is rushing against the right tackle, and once the tackle gets his hands on him, he looks absolutely helpless to break free.

Even the times where he successfully rushed the quarterback didn't inspire much confidence that this is a beast just waiting to bust out of his cage.
I mean, it shows nice hustle, and yes, you can give credit to his threat of speed for the tackle trying to drop that far back, but it's nothing that will work on a consistent basis.

One thing that I saw show up a few times was that Floyd did a really great job of exploding off the snap, to the point where I thought he was offside, but it was just really good anticipation on his part. It might lead to an occasional offsides call, but you like to see that sort of aggressiveness.

I had watched a lot of Leonard Floyd in a very short period of time. Honestly, it got pretty boring. It was so much ho-hum bullshit that I was losing interest. But my patience paid off with a "Holy shit" moment against Missouri.
Finally, I could see what the Bears saw. That is a sick ass spin move.

And since he is an athletic freak, all it takes is a simple speed rush to pair that up with...
And you start thinking maybe. Maybe this guy could be the double digit sack rusher that the team needs.

Although I can recognize that the potential exists, I'm still not sold. I feel like his age is a huge factor in prognosticating his potential. Floyd is going to be 24 before the first game of the season. I'm not against older prospects, but I am against older prospects that you expect to still blossom into something special.

I think it's pretty clear that I don't love the pick. Can you convince yourself that there's something there? Definitely, but asking for an older prospect to finally turn those tools into consistent production is not a gamble I would want to take with the ninth overall pick in the draft. The good news is that I feel a whole lot better about how the Bears followed up their first round pick, but we'll get to that in a couple days.

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