clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Leonard Floyd is the 2016 NFL Draft's jack of all trades

The Georgia edge rusher can play coverage, defend the run, work on the inside and the outside, rush the passer and more. Retired NFL defensive end Stephen White wonders what Floyd's specialty is.

You know that old saying, "Jack of all trades, master of none?" It perfectly describes what I saw when I watched Leonard Floyd play.

Whether out of necessity or by choice, Georgia lined this kid up all over the place in the four games I used for this breakdown. One play he might be lined up as a 3-4 inside linebacker. Next, he might be at outside linebacker walked out on the slot in pass coverage. The play after that, he might have his hand in the dirt as a defensive end rushing the passer -- you just never really knew where he might be.

Problem is, even though he played pretty well overall in all those spots, he wasn't really outstanding at ... anything over the course of those four games.

Maybe the most impressive thing about Floyd's play was how consistently fluid he was in pass coverage. Considering the fact that he is 6'6, weighs over 240 pounds and is being considered primarily as an edge rusher, that's not what you would normally expect to see.

Watching the ease with which Floyd dropped back in coverage, I quickly realized that this wasn't just another defensive end someone was trying to turn into an outside linebacker. Oh, no no no.

This kid won't be a liability in coverage if he is asked to do it a bit. Unfortunately, I don't see a "cover linebacker" as being a guy you spend a first-round pick on. While I give Floyd props for looking natural in coverage, a couple of times it didn't go so well for him downfield.

He wasn't exactly the surest tackler out in the open field all the time, either.

Don't get me wrong, his versatility was pretty impressive, but first-round picks are supposed to be special at something. Or at the least they should show the potential to be special at something. And while Floyd could maybe play as, say, a 4-3 outside linebacker, where good coverage skills are generally of higher value, I don't see anything on his tape that tells me he would excel at it. He would be okay at it, but I wouldn't expect much more than that.

That is especially true when you consider that he wasn't all that physical as an inside linebacker. I kept waiting to see him come downhill and splatter somebody, but what I kept seeing was him trying to make tackles flat-footed and by going low.

I don't think Georgia did him many favors by not blitzing him more when he was lined up as an inside linebacker. I think giving him a place to go full speed on the snap of the ball could have helped him be a lot more productive in that role. At the least, he might have looked a little more physical trying to run through some guys.

It's pretty clear on tape that if Floyd is going to be selected in the first round, it probably won't be as an off-the-ball linebacker, even though his coverage skills were decent. For that reason I think it's best to evaluate him strictly as an edge guy, even if scheme versatility might be a plus for any team that takes him.

Back to that master of none thing ...

Floyd is somewhat of a physical freak, at least according to his combine workout. At that size the dude ran a 4.6 flat 40-yard dash and had a vertical leap just under 40 inches high. His broad jump of 127 inches was also impressive and even more evidence of Floyd's weight room explosion.

I say weight room explosion because I didn't see damn near any of that shit on his tape. A guy that fast and that explosive in his testing should be hell on offensive tackles coming around the edge. While Floyd had a few plays here or there where he won with an edge rush around the corner, what I was more likely to see was him pushed past the level of the quarterback on those rushes instead.

That was especially true when he lined up on the right side and tried to beat left tackles. At least when he lined up on the left side, Floyd knew how to turn his hips a little bit so he could slip by the right tackle around the corner.

From the right side he just looked so much more stiff and robotic. He wasn't nearly as effective as a pass rusher, that's for damn sure. Even with his hand in the dirt, Floyd didn't look particularly quick with his get-off and he didn't seem to strike much fear in offensive tackles that he would run around them.

From his tape, I'd have thought Floyd was maybe a little above average as an athlete, so to see his combine numbers after watching him play was quite puzzling.

Where he did find a little more success as a pass rusher was when Floyd went with inside moves. He can be pretty slippery with that wiry frame, and all he needs is a little bit of room to slide through and get to the quarterback.

Unfortunately, Floyd is not always on the details when it comes to his inside moves, which ended up leading to him getting pinned inside more than I would've liked to see.

As a left edge rusher in particular, you have to be doubly careful about getting pinned inside because that is usually the side where most right-handed quarterbacks will try to break contain. If you get stuck inside, it's probably going to be all bad for the rest of the defense.

For a guy with Floyd's athletic ability, those moves ought to be just the appetizer, not the main course. If you take him in the first round as an edge guy, it will have to be with the hope that he gets a lot better at turning the corner, so that everything else he does well will work better.

A speed rusher who doesn't win with speed all that much, I'm not sure how well that will work out tbh.

OK, so what about Floyd's ability as a run defender from the edge?

Well, that's a mixed bag as well.

The one thing I really liked about Floyd as a run defender was that he tended to keep moving while he took on blocks, which made it harder for offensive linemen to lock on and move him. Even if he could bench press a metric ton, Floyd was still a little light in the ass, so trying to just hold his ground against an offensive lineman who probably weighs almost 100 pounds more isn't usually the way to go.

That constant movement also helped Floyd to be in position to make plays at times that he otherwise wouldn't have been able to because it helped free him from the would-be blocker. Not being stationary meant that it was harder for the offensive linemen to get and keep their hands on him, so when Floyd wanted to ditch them and make the play, it was easier to do so.

Lest you think that meant that Floyd was a good run defender from the edge, it's important for me to point out that there were also occasions when he got molly whopped. The Alabama game, in particular, is probably one he wants to forget.

It wasn't just Alabama, though.

Then I saw this play where he tried to avoid the pulling guard instead of taking him on and my head just about exploded.

I mean, come the hell on bruh, what was that?

In a different game I saw him in the same situation, and that time Floyd did a much better job of going and getting him some when he saw the pulling guard coming toward him.

Tell you this much -- if a guy decides to run around a kick-out block, he damn well better make the play, because he's making life much harder for a teammate who now has to try to fill the enormous hole created by running around the block. And they better not end up on their back when it's all said and done, that's for sure!

I thought I saw some Jamie Collins in Floyd when I first started watching the tape and saw how Georgia moved him around. In hindsight, it may have just been heartburn from the tacos. You put Collins and Floyd in a weight room and I imagine they are similar athletes. On a football field, Collins is far and away better at just about everything than Floyd, and it ain't close. Now, Collins has rightfully been called out in the past for not being all that physical, but Floyd kinda makes Collins look like Dick Butkus. Also, Collins actually plays as fast and explosive as his combine numbers when you watch his tape. Floyd rarely did in the games I saw.

I would have expected a much more dominant player with those workout numbers, but I just didn't see it.

On the other hand, I bet that there will be teams that look at Floyd and see Collins, too. They will see Floyd and imagine being able to use him like the New England Patriots use Collins, lining him up all over the place to make life hell on opposing offenses.

Who knows, maybe they'll be right.

Maybe Floyd will get some good coaching in the NFL and actually start playing on the field like the guy who ran that fast and jumped so high at the combine.

I personally wouldn't bet on it, however. Not in the first round, at least.

There's a great chance for him to be a boom player, but I just think the chance that he's a bust is probably greater. That's especially true if he goes to a team that has no idea how to maximize his abilities. I think you ask him to do less and let him concentrate on getting better at one or two things rather than five or six. But that's just me.

At the end of the day, I still think Leonard Floyd will be a good player, but a first-round pick is supposed to be bound for greatness.

I just don't see it.

I hope he proves me wrong.

Since I don't have access to all-22 for college football games, I use the next best thing for my draft profiles, Draft Breakdown. They have the TV copy of a bunch of top prospects already cut up and ready to go. Also, their site is compatible with the new NoHuddle app, which turns your cell phone into a "cowboy clicker," which is pretty damn neat. For the purposes of this breakdown I watched former Georgia linebacker/edge rusher Leonard Floyd against Vanderbilt, Alabama, Tennessee and Auburn. Those represented the second, fifth, sixth and 10th games on Georgia's schedule last season, respectively.