Nov 7, 2015; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Leonard Floyd (84) works against Kentucky Wildcats offensive tackle Jordan Swindle (70) during the first half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated Kentucky 27-3. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets need a premier linebacker added to their defense to bring more speed and youth to their overall pass rush. That’s why drafting linebacker Leonard Floyd makes a ton of sense in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Make no mistake about it, defense wins championships. Even though the Jets had a pretty stout defense last year which was great against the run and forcing opponents to punt the football after many failed third down attempts, they still had a few issues as a unit.
The Jets’ defense was unable to bring enough pressure to the quarterback. It seemed as though opposing quarterbacks had more than enough time to extend plays due to the lack of speed and aggression on defense.
They were also unable to bring down opposing quarterbacks as effectively as they wanted to. Last season, the Jets’ defense totaled 39.0 overall sacks which was good but not great. Imagine how many more sacks that could have led to another win or two last season if they had a faster pass rush?
That’s why it makes a ton of sense to use their No. 20 overall pick in this year’s draft on linebacker Leonard Floyd. Here are the top five reasons why they should select him.
Next: 5. Linebacker corps in dire need of upgrade
Oct 17, 2015; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Leonard Floyd (84) chases Missouri Tigers quarterback Drew Lock (3) during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated Missouri 9-6. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
5. Linebacker corps in dire need of upgrade
The Jets’ linebacker corps is aging and not as fast as it use to be. It was so bad that the Jets had to utilize defensive end Sheldon Richardson as a hybrid player last season at linebacker and defensive end. Linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin should have a nice sophomore season with the Jets but he is still developing his skill-set.
Calvin Pace will more than likely not return to the Jets next season as they will want to add another linebacker to go alongside David Harris. That’s why someone like Floyd could come right in and take care of business.
With his incredible speed, tackling abilities and a high football IQ, Floyd is exactly what the Jets need to usher in an exciting new chapter on defense. With how great their defensive line will be and their defensive secondary, Floyd could easily be the missing piece of the puzzle to put everything together.
One of Floyd’s strengths is easily his ability to bring the heat to opposing quarterbacks. In his collegiate career at Georgia, Floyd totaled 182 tackles, 17.0 sacks and five forced fumbles.
Next: 4. Speed is what separates him from the rest
Oct 17, 2015; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Leonard Floyd (84) and Missouri Tigers offensive lineman Nate Crawford (55) battle during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated Missouri 9-6. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
4. Speed is what separates him from the rest
With the way the NFL is only getting faster and offenses heavily relying on the pass, the Jets’ defense needs to be able to contain some of the best quarterbacks they’ll be going up against next season. From Tom Brady, Andrew Luck to even Russell Wilson, the Jets’ defense must be able to hurry them in the pocket and get to them quickly if they want to leave victorious.
Floyd is a bit smaller than many would like as a linebacker as he’s just 6’6 and 244 pounds but his speed is what separates him from the rest. Once he adds a bit more weight and muscle to his frame, he’s going to be one dangerous linebacker for the Jets.
He has a great inside-counter move that has been effective in throwing opposing offensive linemen off as he makes his impact known early and often. To imagine Floyd roaming on defense ready to blitz the quarterback will be a great sight to see on defense next season for the Jets.
The Jets’ defense is as complex as it is potent. It wasn’t perfect last season but considering the players they had, it was a massive improvement from the past few years. Unleashing Floyd next season in a situational role could bring in some very nice results from this unit come next season.
Next: 3. 2016 NFL Combine showed his strengths
Feb 28, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Leonard Floyd runs the 40 yard dash during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
3. 2016 NFL Combine showed his strengths
With an excellent motor and a natural competitive spirit, there is no doubt Floyd will enjoy success as he transitions into the NFL. As a pass rusher, he has the necessary skill-set that the Jets need to really push the envelope next season.
So far based on their moves this offseason, the Jets are more than likely going to have their main strengths of the team be their rushing attack and defense. At the end of last season, the new leadership regime stressed that they needed to get faster on defense and be able to address their lack of a consistent pass rush.
Judging by what Floyd did at the combine, it’s easy to see how he would address what the Jets are looking for instantly. At the 40-yard dash, Floyd totaled 4.60 seconds which was the fifth overall best at the event.
Floyd was also second best at the vertical jump with a 39.5 and third best at the broad jump with 10’7″. Needless to say, he has quite the ability to make a lasting impression on the Jets’ defense the moment he steps foot on the field.
Next: 2. Excellent coverage skills
Sep 26, 2015; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Leonard Floyd (84) breaks up a pass intended for Southern University Jaguars wide receiver Willie Quinn (25) during the first half at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
2. Excellent coverage skills
It’s very rare these days to find a linebacker that does very well against opposing quarterbacks and can also drop back in coverage and play efficiently. Floyd is very good in sticking his assignments in pass coverage as his speed will surprise quarterbacks trying to think they have a favorable match-up against him.
With how well Floyd can jump and also deflect passes, he’s a very versatile option that the Jets can be confident in selecting in this year’s draft. He’s consistent and has a great work ethic with no character or integrity issues. His coverage skills would also add another talented defender that can help in their defensive secondary.
He’s a natural fit on the 3-4 defense of the Jets and with the right coaching, could be incredible over time. It’s important the Jets draft Floyd to be developed nicely over the next year or two so maybe he’ll be the direct replacement for Harris once his time comes to retire.
Floyd is very good when it comes to pursuing even the fastest receiving targets coming his way. He’d be the perfect addition to the Jets that can go sideline-to-sideline faster than a New York minute.
Next: 1. Versatility with inside or outside duties
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1.Versatility with inside or outside duties
Floyd had experience at Georgia as both an inside and outside linebacker. He naturally learned how to fix his original weakness early on his collegiate career in pass coverage and turned it into a strength. While he excels at primarily rushing the quarterback, he’s going to eventually be a complete all-around linebacker that could be a cornerstone for years to come with the Jets handling any assignments he needs to execute.
Once he adds some more pass-rushing moves to his arsenal and some weight, he will be a force to reckon with against opposing teams. What’s best of all is he absolutely loves the game of football and is willing to do anything and everything to succeed at the next level.
With a good head on his shoulders and how the Jets can utilize him as either an inside or outside linebacker, if he’s available when they’re on the clock, it’s an easy decision to make. It would address a lot of their pass rush issues in addition to preparing their next future starter at the position.
Overall, Floyd to the Jets makes a ton of sense and in the grand scheme of things, is the kind of cornerstone player to build around on defense for years to come. The Jets would be landing a top player ready to prove his worth immediately upon arrival.