NFL.com analyst Willie McGinest recently gave his pass rushing breakout candidates for the 2019 season, and he has Leonard Floyd, outside linebacker of the Chicago Bears, among the four players he mentioned. This will be Floyd's fourth year as a pro, and he is coming off his best season ever, so it’s certainly possible.
McGinest is predicting 11 sacks for the soon to be 27-year old Floyd, and here’s what he had to say.
Floyd has logged fewer than five sacks in each of the last two seasons. Playing through a hand injury last season, he generated just 35 quarterback pressures, per Pro Football Focus, ranking 47th among edge defenders. With a healthy offseason to work on technique and the addition of Chuck Pagano as defensive coordinator, Floyd is poised for a breakout campaign in his fourth pro season. New outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino recently told the Chicago Tribune that Floyd “can be special” as he works on better counter techniques to turn pressures into sacks. Pagano’s defense also features a number of blitz packages that allow linebackers and safeties to pressure the QB, and Floyd should face one-on-one opportunities due to the talent around him (Akiem Hicks and sack artist Khalil Mack).
Health will be key for Floyd, as will how new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano employs him. He’s such a good athlete that I’m sure we’ll still see him drop into coverage every now and again, but we also could see him blitzing from some unconventional spots along the Bears front. If Floyd’s technique is finally catching up to his speed, then McGinnist might be right in that double digit sack prediction.
While I think Floyd is going to have a good year, my pick for breakout candidate plays in the trenches. I’m fired up to see how James Daniels develops in his second year at his new position, center. I’m already on record with a Pro Bowl prediction for Daniels, but there’s another big guy on the Bears that I think could break out, and that’s fellow second year pro Bilal Nichols.
Who’s your pick for Bears’ breakout candidate in 2019?