When the Chicago Bears traded up to draft Georgia’s Leonard Floyd with the 9th overall pick last year, many fans were split on his potential. The Bears needed a speedy edge rusher, but Floyd only had 4.5 sacks his final year in college. Some were bemoaning his lack of “stats” at Georgia, and expressing concern over his weight, while others saw a fast and athletic outside linebacker, that just needed to hone his skills.
Floyd made an immediate impact, registering 6 tackles and a half a sack in his week one debut, while playing 80% of the defensive snaps. His 60 snaps were 12 more than any other OLB on the roster, and it looked like Floyd had already eared the trust of the coaches.
Things didn’t go quite as well the next few weeks however, as he totaled only 7 tackles in weeks 2 and 3, then suffered a calf injury during the week 4 contest. He missed the next two weeks, but came back strong with an impactful performance in their week 7 game against the Green Bay Packers with 3 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 tackle for loss, 3 QB hits, and a forced fumble that he recovered himself for a touchdown.
A couple of concussions stole a couple games from him (weeks 12 & 17), but in a three game stretch, starting with that Packers game, he had 4.5 sacks, 3 TFL and 6 QBHs. He definitely flashed some big play potential as a rookie, and ESPN’s Matt Bowen believes he could “make the leap to stardom.”
In his recent Insider article on ESPN, Bowen names Floyd as one of ten 2016 rookies that are ready to make the leap in their 2nd year.
The Bears' top-10 pick had seven sacks as a rookie, and he flashed his unique athleticism as an edge rusher. At 6-6 and 240 pounds with 4.60 speed, Floyd has the acceleration to get to the quarterback, but he also has to add some upper-body bulk to his frame. That will allow him to convert speed into power to become a consistent threat as an outside pass-rusher for Vic Fangio's defense. Floyd's skill set is still a little raw, but the potential is there.
Do you guys agree with Bowen? Could Floyd be a star in 2017?