The Chicago Bears traded up to select Georgia OLB Leonard Floyd with the No. 9 pick in the 2016 NFL draft.
Floyd does fit the NFL's preference for rangy, big linebackers who can do a lot of things. At 6' 6" and 244 pounds, Floyd can careen off the edge as adeptly as he drops into coverage. However, he'll have to be used a certain way, because he lacks the tackling strength to take on running backs consistently. Chicago signed Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman in the off-season to reinforce their weak linebacker corps, so defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will have the option to move Floyd around. The low grade has more to do with Floyd's slight build—he could be Barkevious Mingo or Bruce Irvin just as easily as he could be an elite pass-rusher at the next level.
Strengths: Floyd plays credibly at several positions—from edge rusher to outside linebacker to slot defender. Has the raw speed and athleticism to cover huge spaces of turf in a very short time. He is an outstanding athlete who can cover in a 360-degree fashion, everywhere from the line of scrimmage to either sideline to intermediate coverage depth. Not a huge palette of hand moves, but has a nice inside counter that can be devastating in combination with his quickness. Potentially game-changing edge rusher from the tackle’s outside shoulder. Incredible first-step burst is best exploited in an endbacker role. Could be great on blitzes and stunts with his gap explosion. In coverage, can take tight end and slot receivers through basic routes and proves to be a dynamic open-field tackler.
Weaknesses: Floyd’s primary issue when it comes to converting to the NFL is obvious, and it screams off the tape—he’s really skinny. Barkevious Mingo skinny. He needs to build muscle to deal with NFL blockers and skill position players. Plays very upright from the edge, and between pad level and body type, has very little leverage to deal with blockers when they get on him. Tends to get wiped out in scrums and doesn’t sift through crowds well. Struggles to re-direct after first contact. Will need to develop more hand moves and edge bend, and may be limited to a situational overall role with his NFL team.