Leonard Floyd played collegiately at the University of Georgia. Might the Atlanta Falcons go after the edge rusher at No. 17 should he be available?
Leonard Floyd is one of the more interesting players to enter the 2016 NFL Draft a year early. Though he is four years removed from high school, Floyd could have returned to the University of Georgia in 2016 and play essentially his redshirt senior season for new UGA head coach Kirby Smart in Athens.
Instead Floyd opted to enter the 2016 NFL Draft and will go anywhere from inside the top 10 of the first round to middle of the second round in some projections. Would the Atlanta Falcons want to draft the Eastman, Georgia native should Floyd be available at No. 17 in this spring’s NFL Draft?
Leonard Floyd is a terrific pass rusher, capable of disrupting the quarterback as an every-down outside linebacker. Floyd makes his front seven better, as he can play in several spots in a 3-4 base defense. In 2015, Leonard Floyd played four positions on the UGA defensive front seven: outside linebacker, inside linebacker, defensive end, and the safety/inside linebacker hybrid position known as STAR.
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Though the Atlanta Falcons run a 4-3 Under base defensive scheme, it resembles a traditional 3-4 in some capacities. While Floyd isn’t big enough to play as a typical 3-4 defensive end, he could serve as another option at the LEO position with No. 8 overall selection from last year’s draft Vic Beasley, in having two great pass rushers on the field at the same time.
I would prefer to use Leonard Floyd as an outside linebacker, as he can both rusher the passer and considerably improved his run defense in 2015. That was an area of tremendous weakness for him in 2014. He worked hard to become a great all-around defensive player for the Georgia Bulldogs in 2015.
Leonard Floyd has the physical profile of what head coach Dan Quinn may like out of a defensive player: size, length, speed, grit, and versatility. All are key parts to Floyd’s impressive game in the front seven. Atlanta could use a player with as much upside and versatility as Leonard Floyd on its defense for the next several years.
Quinn and his staff may again look to go with another popular player in the Southeast region with their 2016 first round pick. Floyd would certainly qualify as that type of player. My only concerns with Leonard Floyd and the Atlanta Falcons being a potential fit at No. 17 are that Floyd somewhat reminds of 2015 second round pick Jalen Collins in that they aren’t position specific players, in that they are going to take a few years to develop in the NFL.
Atlanta may prefer a player that can make an immediate impact on the defensive side of the football with their No. 17 overall pick. Not to say that Leonard Floyd can’t make the swift transition to the NFL right out of the gate, it has more to do with figuring out what best ways to feature him in the defensive front seven. The upside with Leonard Floyd is off the charts, so Atlanta may go with him at No. 17 to help bolster their pass rush and linebacking corps .