Former Georgia outside linebacker Leonard Floyd selected in first round of NFL Draft

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By Joe Vitale:

Leonard Floyd had one more year of eligibility remaining at the University of Georgia, however, the thought of signing a lucrative modern day NFL contract rewarded to a first round pick is too nice to pass up on. For Floyd, it is safe to say he made the correct decision by jumping to the big leagues.

Former University of Georgia star outside linebacker Leonard FLoyd was selected 9th overall by the Chicago Bears in the 2016 NFL Draft on Thursday night. This marks the second consecutive year that Georgia has seen a former player taken 10th overall (Todd Gurley to the Ram last year).

Floyd recorded 74 tackles his junior season at UGA, 10.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 quarterback sacks. The stats don’t tell the entire story of the Dodge County High product. Floyd is a disruptive force on defense and is a special talent.

It was a nice surprise for UGA fans to hear Floyd’s name called at number 9 overall, as many were expecting to see the lanky pass-rusher go in the mid-teens to early-twenties. Instead, the Chicago Bears made the jump to number 9 to select the talented pass rusher. There was not much dominant film of Floyd, but his measurements and combine performance impressed a number of teams. #84 tested great at February’s NFL Combine, producing a 4.60 40-yard dash, a 10’7” broad jump and a 39.5-inch vertical. He checked in at an appealing 6’6″ and an improved 244 pounds.

There was never any doubt as to if Floyd had the talent necessary to be taken in the first round of the draft, but many draft scouts could not quite wrap their mind around Floyd and dubbed him as a ‘confusing prospect’. Floyd always produced at UGA, leading the team in sacks for three consecutive seasons, but never fully dominated a game and never recorded more than 6.5 sacks in a season. However, as mentioned earlier, stats do not tell the whole story. He has the traits needed to be a star, including a high motor.

NFL draft expert Mike Mayock broke down why he thinks Floyd is the most ‘conflicted’ player in this year’s draft, according to Jordan Raanan of — “He showed up at the Combine bigger and heavier than all of us expected. And when you watch him play, he’s an off-the-line linebacker. They have him off the edge, they have him covering slots, his athletic ability is amazing and his burst off the edge is rare,” Mayock said. “So, at the end of the day, in a pass-first league, teams are going to lean toward what he can do as opposed to what he can’t do. And what he can do is get off the line and get off the edge.”

Floyd will fit in perfectly to the Bears 3-4 defensive scheme, afrer spending the past tree years doing the same in Athens.

Pass rushing prowess alone should be enough to excite Bears fans, but he has many positive traits that will make the Chicago faithful smile. He possesses an incredibly robust set of skills for a defender:

  • Very good speed, even over longer distances
  • Good change of direction skills, can cut and move with receivers
  • Aggression; plays with an edge and is not afraid to be physical
  • Very solid run reads; is rarely fooled by fakes or misdirection
  • Excellent run defender; able to both set the edge and flow down the line of scrimmage to make a play
  • Terrific tackler; fills his gaps quickly, hits hard and wraps up solidly
  • Excellent pass coverage defender; big enough to take on tight ends but fast enough to run stride for stride with slot receivers

Featured photo: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

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