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
It makes sense for the New York Jets to draft Leonard Floyd in the 2016 NFL Draft. Floyd could be the answer to their problem at the edge rusher position for many years to come.
The Jets have struggled for years rushing the quarterback off the edge. With the likes of Calvin Pace and Quinton Coples playing outside linebacker for the last couple of years (2013-14), the Jets have really lacked speed to get pressure in the backfield.
They have made some recent acquisitions to bolster the linebacking core, but have yet to add a real outside threat to help the pass rush. They instead have addressed the void at inside linebacker which is most certainly needed after the departure of Demario Davis.
In 2015, the Jets linebacking corps tallied just 14.5 sacks of the team’s 39 total sacks; numbers that need to improve in 2016 and beyond if the Jets want to contend in the AFC. Yes, they have been solid but the Jets need to take the next step and acquire players to be great, bring more speed and youth to this position.
It’s time for an overhaul in New York. Leonard Floyd is a guy that can most certainly set this group in the right direction. Here are the top five reasons why they should select him in the first round of this year’s draft.
Next: 5. Look at the Super Bowl Champions
Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller (58) sacks Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) in Super Bowl 50 at Levi
5. Look at the Super Bowl Champions
How did the Denver Broncos defeat the New England Patriots in the 2015 AFC Championship to move on Super Bowl 50? And how did they defeat the Carolina Panthers in the big game? They pounded both the Patriots’ and Panthers’ offensive lines and got consistent pressure on Tom Brady and Cam Newton.
Von Miller is an absolute monster off the edge and is hands down one of the best defensive players in the NFL. It’s crazy to think that Miller’s numbers in 2015 are less than his average over his career, but they are.
Miller ended the regular season with 11 sacks, 30 tackles and five assists on tackles. On the grandest stage, Super Bowl 50, Miller continued to pile it on adding three sacks, five hurries and two forced fumbles, becoming the Super Bowl MVP.
Of course, he doesn’t do this all by himself. And beware putting all of the attention on Miller, because there are a number of guys that will get pressure on a consistent basis: DeMarcus Ware, Malik Jackson, Derek Wolfe, Shaquil Barrett. The key? Speed and power. Take note, Bowles and Maccagnan.
Next: 5. New York doesn't need another Calvin Pace
Nov 24, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets outside linebacker Calvin Pace (97) against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
4. New York doesn’t need another Calvin Pace
It seems like forever that Pace has been playing outside linebacker for the Jets. Too long. Eight seasons. He has played well during his tenure here, but it’s time to shake things up in New York; time to infuse some youth, speed and athleticism into the linebacker corps.
In his eight seasons with the Jets, Pace has tallied 316 tackles (110 assisted), 46 sacks and 16 forced fumbles, his best single season for sacks being in 2013 where he recorded 10. Pace is 35-years-old and it is hard to believe he can continue to be effective. Really, since he signed his two-year deal following the 2013 season, he’s been on the roster bubble every offseason in New York.
Floyd would be able to step right in and take care of business for the Jets. He’s the kind of linebacker that has a great motor, can chase down ball careers from sideline-to-sideline and above all else would bring some much needed aggression and consistency at outside linebacker.
New York could find someone in the draft or work on developing the talent in-house rather than overpaying a free agent that doesn’t suit their needs. That’s why they could finally address this need by confidently selecting Floyd in this year’s draft.
Next: 4. The Jets have big questions at linebacker
Nov 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin (55) hits Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) In the 2nd half at MetLife Stadium.The Jets defeated the Dolphins 38-20. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
3. The Jets have big questions at linebacker
New York faces many questions at linebacker heading into their 2016 campaign which is why they should use their first-round draft pick on an impact player like Floyd. General manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles have acknowledged the need this offseason.
How much can Lorenzo Mauldin develop his all-around game? Can he take on the role of the primary edge rusher in New York? Mauldin has shown us flashes in increased play time during the latter part of 2015. He finished the season with 17 total tackles and four sacks. Bowles is optimistic Mauldin can make a big impact in 2016 as he said here, courtesy of the Media Relations Department of the Jets:
"“He got better as the year went on. As he got comfortable, he started to show his personality and was letting his game speak a little bit more,” Bowles stated. “In year two, we expect him to make a big jump as far as being a full-time player at outside ‘backer. If he comes in shape that way, we’ll sit down and have that talk, but I expect Mauldin to be a major player this year.”"
The Jets were able to sign Bruce Carter to a one-year deal, and re-sign linebacker Erin Henderson to a two-year deal which helps them fill a void at the inside-linebacker position as the Jets lost Davis, who signed a free agent deal with the Cleveland Browns.
Every one of these players could make a difference for the Jets this season and beyond, but Mauldin and Henderson are unproven, and Carter has been a bust thus far in his career. How effectively they can develop and adapt will show the coaching staff whether they will have limited success or become impact players on the Jets over the coming years.
Next: 2. Floyd puts up good numbers, but look past them
Aug 30, 2014; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Leonard Floyd (84) hits Clemson Tigers quarterback Cole Stoudt (18) causing a fumble during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated Clemson 45-21. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
2. Floyd puts up good numbers, but look past them
In three seasons with the Georgia Bulldogs, Floyd was an absolute force off the edge. In 2013, his freshman year, Floyd totaled 55 tackles, 34 solo and 21 assists, with 6.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
His numbers did not change very much in 2014. As a sophomore, he also totaled 55 tackles, only this time 21 solo and 34 assists, adding six sacks and three forced fumbles. During the 2014 season, Floyd struggled with a shoulder injury which later would require surgery and ultimately kept him out of the Belk Bowl against Louisville.
In his senior year in Athens, Floyd finished with 74 total tackles, 37 solo and 37 assists, with 4.5 sacks. Despite only adding 4.5 sacks, he was consistently getting pressure on the quarterback, helping set up a good number of sacks for his teammates.
At the 2016 NFL Combine, Floyd came in weighing 10-15 pounds more than he played at in college. He still put his speed and athleticism on display with a 40-yard dash time of 4.60 seconds.
Next: 1. Floyd would make an immediate impact in New York
1. Floyd would make an immediate impact in New York
Over the past three years, Floyd has proven consistently as an edge rusher with Georgia. His skill-set and familiarity in a 3-4 scheme would allow him to make an immediate impact with the Jets.
Floyd has great range, displaying speed to chase down players no matter where they are on the football field. With rushing, he is elusive, has the ability to surge past offensive tackles with his speed and has great hand slap technique. He is a bit long at 6’6″ which affects his overall strength and size. He will need to spend time bulking up and conditioning which will help in the NFL.
He is a bit of a niche player at this point in his career, and wasn’t putting up the sack numbers some people may want, but the amount of pressure he got on the quarterback would help teammates and led to many plays that would impact the outcome of a game.
That type of skill-set in a rookie would compliment the Jets right now, especially with the experienced group of guys currently on defense. He would be able to learn and develop with a savvy group of defensive players and who knows, could be the next big thing on defense in New York.