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Home / Commentary / 2016 IDP DRAFT PREVIEW: Leonard Floyd – LB, Georgia

2016 IDP DRAFT PREVIEW: Leonard Floyd – LB, Georgia

It’s draft day! In just a few short hours the Los Angeles Rams will go on the clock with the No. 1 overall pick. We have a pretty good idea who that pick will be, but recent days have been replete with rumors and speculation about players moving up or down draft boards.

One youngster who appears to be positively zooming in the former direction is Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd. In fact, buzz is growing that the 6’6″, 244-pound Floyd, who racked up 74 tackles, 10.5 TFL, and 4.5 sacks for the Bulldogs in 2015, may not make it out of the top 10.

As the Telegraph’s Jason Butt wrote, Floyd’s combination of versatility and athleticism has some NFL scouts going gaga.  “Floyd’s upside is his athletic prowess and ability to rush the quarterback,” Butt said. “In three seasons at Georgia, Floyd totaled 182 tackles and 17 sacks. While Floyd recorded 4  1/2 sacks in 2015, the fewest during his college career, he routinely got after the quarterback playing multiple positions. Not only was Floyd an outside linebacker, he played inside linebacker and nickel cornerback over the course of his three seasons.”

Chris Clemons of SEC Country agrees. “I’m a regular listener of the “ESPN First Draft” podcast,” Clemons wrote, “starring noted draft gurus Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay. At various times during the last two weeks, McShay has identified Floyd as the “fastest riser” among prospects currently outside the top 10.”

“McShay even doubled down on a glowing nugget, revealing that certain high-drafting NFL teams — both running 4-3 and 3-4 base defenses — have pledged serious interest in Floyd, based on his unlimited speed-rush potential.”

Floyd, for his part, certainly didn’t shy away from the notion of being a Day 1 pick while speaking with Butt. “Why wouldn’t I be worthy?” Floyd said. “I played for Georgia, I made plays for Georgia. Why wouldn’t I be?”

However, all is not rising draft stock and happy feelings. There are criticisms of Floyd, mostly in regards to his lack of bulk and power. Per Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, “Floyd is painfully thin and will struggle to matchup with the strength of NFL players, but he is rangy in space, plays with a good motor and has traits as a pass rusher that would be a mistake to ignore. Floyd’s ability to cover close to five yards in three strides is rare for edge rushers. Add to that his inside counter and ability to play in space and you have a prospect who will be heavily scrutinized. Floyd’’s lack of functionality could limit him to sub­-packages unless he proves he can add more beef to his frame.”

Rob Rang of CBS Sports called Floyd a “highly intriguing size-length-athleticism prospect,” but echoed many of Zierlein’s concerns. “Floyd can stab, dip and flatten around the edge,” he said, “maintaining his balance without losing speed to the pocket. He is deadly in space, but Floyd’s lack of functional strength and growth potential are glaring concerns. One of the best athletes in this draft class, his is not one of the best football players and would need to land in a scheme that protects him in a niche role.”
However, all this talk about Floyd’s late rise has come from somewhere, and it may well be that an NFL team has seen enough of Floyd’s athleticism and scheme versatility to allay fears about his lack of size and strength. And that creates an interesting quandary for IDP owners.
Worst case? Floyd is Barkevious Mingo of the Cleveland Browns (a comparison made by Rang) — a thin-framed edge rusher drafted to play in a 3-4 front who struggles to make a dent in the NFL (and IDP leagues) despite his lofty draft status.
Best case? That 3-4 team drafts Floyd to play inside, or a 4-3 club like the New York Giants (who have been linked to Floyd at No. 10) selects him. Floyd then shows that size is overrated, holds up at the point of attack, earns early snaps and shows off that athleticism by flowing sideline to sideline.
And in that case, we just might be on to something.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is an eight-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who has been a finalist for that organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award each of the last three years. He won the honor in 2017. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.