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10 Most Important Bears of 2016: #8 Leonard Floyd must be a difference maker

For the 8th straight year, I'm bringing you who I believe will be the ten most important Chicago Bears for the upcoming season. At number 8 is the rookie that should bring a different element to the defensive side of the ball.

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Last year the Chicago Bears had 35 sacks, which placed them 22nd in the NFL, which isn't that bad. Then when you consider they were 12th in sacks per pass attempt with 6.84%, you realize it wasn't as bleak as we initially thought. And when you look at hurries, which can be a tough stat to quantify, Sporting Charts had the Bears in 9th place at 110. Again not too shabby.

That's not to say it can't be better and that they don't need it to be better. You can never have enough pass rushers.

Turnovers are often the result of getting after the quarterback and the Bears were tied for 19th with a -4 turnover margin. Passer rating against is also usually higher when an opposing quarterback has time to go through his reads, and the Bears allowed QBs to compile a 99.3 rating against, which ranked 26th. Those two stats need to improve.

Overall the Bears' pass rush in 2015 was decent, and one would hope that with full healthy season's from outside linebackers Pernell McPhee, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, that it will be even better. But the guy they traded up for in the 2016 NFL Draft brings an element to the pass rush that no one else on the roster has.

The Bears need Leonard Floyd to provide Vic Fangio's defense with speed. Not only speed off the edge, but also some speed in getting to his spots in pass coverage. McPhee and Houston are similar in how they get to the QB (with power, tenacity and technique) and Young has proven to be quick off the edge, but he's not 4.6 forty fast like Floyd.

Floyd will need to be a quick study and become better at dipping under blocks and quickly changing direction, but he's athletic enough to learn. He has a high football IQ as evidenced by the numerous ways he was used in college and he has good hands. The Bears may move him around a little eventually, but for the first time in a long time Floyd will be able to hone in on one position. He'll be lining up at outside linebacker with a #1 job of attacking the quarterback.

The Bears will probably employ Floyd in passing situations, but that means he'll have plenty of defensive snaps. The Bears can get creative with their nickle rush packages thanks to the versatility of McPhee and Houston, plus Floyd rushed inside through the A gaps while at Georgia.

Floyd may not lead the Bears in sacks as a rookie, but if he has his technique down, I guarantee you that opposing coaches will make sure to identify him on every play. Speed kills in the NFL and speed off the edge kills quarterbacks.