I have never been a scout or a NFL general manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can. To read more about the 2016 NFL Draft Project, click here.
When people talk about the draft being an inexact science, one of the real issues we are speaking about is the simple idea that these are developing young players who are about to jump up a significant level of competition, and in some cases, are going to attempt to find a new and perfect positional fit as well -- all in a new city and with large amounts of money in their pocket. The variables are endless and the failure rate is frustrating for all involved. Nobody wants to pick someone who doesn't flourish at the next level with a premium selection, but there are literally no fail-safe ways of finding players from Saturdays who will automatically succeed on Sundays. The cautionary tales are endless.
One particular issue in this draft game, though, comes for players like Leonard Floyd, who does not "check all of the boxes" that you are looking for in a complete player. Rather, he checks some of them. He rushes the passer well, and at times, very well. There are certain people reading this, regarding a league that always covets a pass rush, who will say that is all they need to hear. But, for a big man that will be an edge guy at the next level and is being projected by some to go in the top 20 picks, you will need to understand the issues he comes with. One, he is an older prospect who will be 24 years old by Week 1. He is also very skinny (although he is trying to fix that by bulking up to 245 after playing last season around 230). And most importantly, based on his playing tape at Georgia, there is no ideal positional fit for him in the SEC, which does not bode really well for him at the next level with even bigger and faster and stronger opponents to deal with. They tried him at inside linebacker and outside linebacker, 2-point stance and 3-point stance, out on the flank or stunting him inside to use his strengths and hide his weaknesses. And honestly, they never looked completely comfortable with their conclusions.
What I liked: He was productive in with pass rush over three seasons with 17 sacks at Georgia and an additional 28.5 tackles for loss. Forty five+ explosive plays in three years is interesting production that was compiled with some very nice speed rushes off the edge and a motor that allowed him to clean up some secondary sacks after the play broke down. He may not have many moves, but the simple streak around the edge at the snap has served him well and will be something that is going to translate to the next level. He also had a few occasions where they had him cover from the slot and he streaks down the field like a gazelle. I am curious, at 6-6 with 4.6 speed, if they ever considered tight end, because he sure looks like that sort of athlete that doesn't have an ideal fit on defense. He is a tremendous athlete with a 39-inch vertical jump and strong quickness traits. He will give you high energy and good aggressiveness and is able to find the ball. These are all traits that are interesting at any level.
What I did not like:He just doesn't seem to have an ideal positional fit. The closest would be a 3-4 outside linebacker, but his physicality lacks at disconcerting levels when he is dealing with a play coming at him rather than away from him. He attacks a QB, but when the offensive line is attacking forward, he cannot stand his ground and often gets pushed right out of the way. He is routinely blocked by tight ends and gets stuck in traffic continuously. He is skinny and often appears outclassed with regards to power. Even on his pass rushes, he is pretty much all speed, which professional tackles will neutralize with any amount of scouting. There is a very real chance that he becomes a pass-rush-down only player, which, of course, limits his value in terms of draft position and paycheck. He plays with a great energy but appears to be a finesse linebacker, and that, at the college level, is a dangerous sign for what Sundays might be.
Summary and potential fit with the Cowboys: Often times when you see holes in a player's game, you are reminded that he has plenty of time to develop at the next level with some coaching and weight training. I readily concede that seeing projections is a very difficult skill in draft evaluation and I have missed on this type of player before. But, given his age, and that much of the development of a player happens between 20-23, I am pessimistic Floyd becomes a complete weapon at the next level.
He is not a scheme fit in Dallas, as I have no idea where someone would play him in a 4-3. In a 3-4, he could perhaps get consistent QB pressure, and if he does he will have a job for years to come. But, I would prefer some other team makes Floyd their project. He has absolutely freakish talents and a very impressive highlight tape, but there is too much "unknown" in his game.