Leonard Floyd was confirmed to forgo his senior year at Georgia last month in order to enter the upcoming NFL draft. After coming into 2015 as a team captain, Floyd proved his worth to Georgia when he led the team in tackles for loss and sacks throughout the season.
Floyd has the highest projected 40 yard dash time of 3-4 outside linebackers in the NCAA coming into the NFL scouting combine which is scheduled from February 23rd to the 29th (happy leap year!). He's also 6-feet 4-inches, which makes him a threat to bat down any pass or just scare quarterbacks from throwing over his head. The biggest thing that the tale of the tape holds against him is the fact that he's only 230 lbs. Great for his health, not so great for an edge setting 3-4 outside linebacker.
His highlight tape is a mix of an explosive pass rusher that can get in the backfield quickly with a a player that needs to be more consistent at setting the edge and dealing with stronger opponents.
Sack vs. LSU
Floyd's a tall speedy pass rusher and nobody can deny him that. This is what made him one of the most talked about players in every game Georgia played this past season. Here you can see an example of that as he twists behind the stunt of his defensive lineman and is too fast for the LSU guard to react and get to the spot in order to stop Floyd from sacking the quarterback. Floyd accelerates quickly off the ball and once he gets going towards his target it's hard to out-run him.
Vs. the run against Penn State
This is where most scouts will agree about Floyd's weakness, he is not strong enough against the run. Too often he will get blown off the ball or fail to set the edge against opponents when his speed is not a factor on whether he can make the play in different scenarios. While Georgia gets the stop for only a short gain, Floyd's man pushes him out of the hole and opened a space for the running back to attack. Fortunately Georiga's defensive backs were in position to close down the hole in this scenario.
This situation was a common theme throughout 2015 for Floyd. When he played against Florida, he was able to show off some of his pass rush skills, but failed to set the edge on too many occasions and was eventually pulled once the Gators gained enough of a lead that they could feel comfortable with keeping the ball on the ground. However this is not to say that this is something which Floyd could improve upon to be a successful NFL player. During that same Florida game he showed flashes against the run.
Vs. the run against Florida
Floyd is able to win matchups against players that aren't strong blockers like tight ends and running backs. As you can see here he pushes Florida's tight end 2-3 yards into the backfield while maintaining his outside shoulder free of the opponent's grasp, an effort which forces the Gators' running back to the inside of the play and would result in a forced fumble which Georgia would recover. This is where Floyd shows he can do the job in the right situations when he faces the run. But coaches will want to see more consistency on his end before he can be a full time reliable outside linebacker.
Draft Stock for Pittsburgh:
Floyd's 2015 season saw him placed both at inside and outside linebacker at different times. His speed made him useful in pass coverage because he could cover ground quickly and he could flow behind solid defensive line play to fill holes and move quickly to disrupt offenses. This adds to his value with his pass rush skills in that he could potentially play multiple roles in a defense and be placed at different spots in order to create matchup problems for offenses.
Going into the scouting combine teams will be looking at how strong he has become in his offseason training to see if he's worked on developing the necessary strength it requires to be a consistent edge setter as a 3-4 outside linebacker, as well as just how fast he will clock in on his 40 yard dash time as well as his other drills to show how quick and explosive he can be.
Bud Dupree ran a 4.56 at the combine last season and ended up being the Steelers' first round pick, but he was also considerably heavier at an official weight of 279 lbs. during the combine. He also showed explosiveness in having the third fastest 40 yard dash time, as well as one of the best best vertical jumps and the farthest broad jumps of the combine last year.
Why am I comparing Bud Dupree to Floyd here? Because both are 6' 4" and led their SEC team in sacks going into the draft. Dupree was considered to be a lower pick in the first round which allowed the Steelers to snag him at the 22nd pick, which is the approximate range that Floyd is listed to be selected at right now.
The biggest problem for Floyd is that to be considered at the same level for Pittsburgh, he will have to show improvement in strength and be faster than Dupree when the combine results come out in a few weeks.
As of right now, I do not see Pittsburgh selecting Floyd unless he is somehow hanging around in the third round. The team will most likely be looking to further strengthen its defensive front, but those kinds of looks will be to players who show explosiveness and considerable strength and technique capabilities to set the edge, stop the run and then rush the passer.
Should Floyd impress during the combine, we will re-visit his profile as a candidate for the Steelers' defense.