There's always one prospect that seems to be "the guy" that gets mocked to your team. For Arizona Cardinals, in the 2016 NFL Draft, that player is Leonard Floyd so far. More than any other player, Floyd is a guy I just don't get. He's shown extreme flashes of brilliance, but shown ineffective far too often.
Then there's the size, can he be a true 34 outside linebacker? Is he an off ball player miscast as an "edge rusher"?
Let's take a look:
Leonard Floyd, LB Georgia
Floyd is thin, rangy and athletic, in that order and for a 34 outside backer, that may not be what you want to see.
Of the three people I spoke with, none were of the opinion that Floyd can play outside on a down-by-down basis in the NFL, "He's a pretty skinny dude who is athletic in space, but he doesn't give one damn about getting his cleats back into the ground," one said. "Half the time looks like a hurdler when passing the line of scrimmage. I think he's an off-the-ball backer being miscast as an edge like Dion (Jordan)."
That name came screaming back to me, "Ahh!" and all the while I am watching him, I'm thinking, 'why are they playing this poor kid outside?' Then they moved him inside, and he looked better. But then he looked worse, and then it was, "Oh, no, what is happening?!?!?".
When they talk about putting his cleats in the ground, they mean taking on offensive lineman head up, "Step to contact. Forward momentum should basically force you to fall forward into that step and he doesn't. Hands should be above your eyes but he plays super upright so that doesn't happen," he was described to me.
It's not that he can't play on the edge, it's just this may not be his calling. But per Jim Cobern there is A LOT of work for him to play inside, "He's undersized. 'Will' linebacker would be best, but he has a ways to go in terms of development. The farther off the ball you go, the more you have to learn. He played a little bit of off ball LB things, but he looked clueless in terms of what he was supposed to do."
I noticed this. He was hesitant when he saw things, and then let the action come to him. He isn't overly physical at the point of attack, but he makes plays at all levels when he let's loose and just plays.
That's the question, is he really a first round player? You're talking about a guy that's likely too small to play outside and needs too much work to play inside. Yet, he's a consensus first on most boards.
Here's some of why, but also why I and so many others worry.
"Floyd is a smooth athlete who flows to the football and shows good peripheral vision," I was told. "He can run and change direction, so I don't think he's going to have trouble with his coverage responsibilities as he gains experience.
"Near the line of scrimmage, he keeps his head up and eyes in the backfield, but he's built like a WR so it's common to see him getting locked up and pushed around in the run and short passing games. He gives you good effort and he doesn't back down -- he wasn't afraid to take on Derrick Henry barreling downhill -- but he's going to have to get stronger. He just can't shed blocks consistently right now.
"Floyd's probably at his best as a stand up pass rusher, but at the risk of sounding like a broken record, he's still the skinny guy he was two years ago, and at 23 and a half years old, I don't have a lot of faith in him suddenly beefing up. You can move him around -- an edge rush, a blitz up the middle, some pass coverage -- but I think he's always going to be a question mark in the run game because of his frame."
What do you think Cards fans?