The Buffalo Bills’ defense has been inconsistent throughout the 2015 season as they’ve transitioned to Rex Ryan’s hybrid 3-4 defensive scheme. Some players throughout the front seven that were productive in Mike Pettine and Jim Schwartz’ defensive schemes that were based on 4-3 concepts haven’t been able to replicate that success in their new roles. So, going into the offseason and most notably the 2016 NFL Draft, it’s likely that the team will look to acquire defenders that fit the archetypes for the positions needed for Ryan’s system to thrive. Today, we’ll take a look at Georgia’s versatile linebacker, Leonard Floyd.
Previous Prospect Breakdowns
Floyd was a three-year starter for the Georgia Bulldogs and recorded 178 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss, 17 sacks, five forced fumbles, four passes defensed and 32 quarterback hurries in that span. Throughout his first two seasons, Floyd was used exclusively as an edge rusher, but in 2015 he was a moveable chess piece within Georgia’s defense, lining up in a three-point stance on both sides of the formation in four-man fronts, in a two-point stance in 3-4 looks and even as an inside linebacker on base downs.
Leonard Floyd stands 6’3” and weighs roughly 235+ pounds, making him undersized for an edge rushing prospect, but he’s got a tall, long frame with room to add another 10-15 pounds of good weight. Floyd’s got great speed, lateral agility and adequate strength to play both the run and pass.
Leonard Floyd Pass Rush
Leonard Floyd shows a great first step off the snap and does a good job using his length to keep opposing linemen at a distance. In the following play against Clemson, Floyd gets high out of his stance, but he’s able to quickly get his hands inside the pads of the opposing lineman and fight him off before getting off the block and bringing down DeShaun Watson for a sack.
It’s clear that Floyd is aware of his lack of strength, so he will typically use his long arms to utilize a rip or swim move to beat linemen around the edge, but he’s athletic and flexible enough to bend and redirect when he gets too wide in his rush. This is shown in the following rep in the same game against Clemson, as Floyd is aligned against to the left of the defensive formation.
His initial burst allows him to put Clemson’s right tackle in desperation mode and he lunges at Floyd in an attempt to knock him off his spot. Floyd uses his arm to balance himself before bending the corner and looping around the pocket for another sack.
While Floyd’s body type lends itself to more of a wide rush where he can use his speed and lateral agility to his advantage, he uses his hands well enough to beat linemen with inside moves and is slowly developing an arm-over swim move.
Here against Vanderbilt, Floyd times the snap perfectly and closes in on the right tackle immediately before using a quick rip move to the inside which forces the quarterback to step right into a sack.
Leonard Floyd’s arm-over move is put on display here against Clemson, as he quickly gets over the right tackle and pressures DeShaun Watson into throwing the ball away.
Leonard Floyd Run Defense
Leonard Floyd’s lean frame will lead many to believe that he’ll be a liability against the run, but he’s consistently shown the patience to scrape laterally, the range to flow to the sideline, aggressiveness to shoot gaps, the flexibility to make tackles even when engaged with linemen and uses his length to set the edge and allow teammates to make plays for him.
Here against Vanderbilt, Floyd is playing inside linebacker. The Commodores run the read option, but Floyd stays patient—understanding his run fit—and shoots the gap to make a stop.
From the inside linebacker position, Floyd plays calm and will scrape laterally through traffic before taking a good angle to make a tackle.
Just like he does when rushing the passer, Floyd does a good job of using his length to avoid, or stack and shed blocks quickly in order to bring down running backs.
In order to be trusted as an every-down player at the NFL level, Leonard Floyd will need to bulk up and gain strength, particularly in his lower body. Too often he’s driven backwards by offensive linemen when defending the run.
Leonard Floyd projects best as a 3-4 outside linebacker, where he’ll need to be able to occasionally drop into coverage. He’s a fluid athlete that can cover a lot of ground in both man and zone coverages. Here, he’s in man coverage as a slot defender and runs stride-for-stride with the receiver.
In the next play against Alabama, he’s not responsible for covering wideout Calvin Ridley, but he shows off incredible speed to chase him down the field.
Potential Fit with Buffalo Bills
Leonard Floyd is an intriguing prospect as he offers value at both outside linebacker positions in 3-4 fronts and has shown that he can play some inside ‘backer when needed as well. He’s explosive as a pass rusher and solid in run defense. I see him as a mix between Barkevious Mingo and Alec Ogletree in terms of athletic ability, size, build and roles within a defensive front. He’ll need to bulk up to play any position in a 3-4 front, but he has the requisite skill-set needed to play a variety of positions within the defense.