First-round draft picks surely do not seem to be Ryan Pace’s strong suit. Kevin White was his first, and, well, yikes. That was 2016. When 2017 rolled around, Pace was positioned at 11th overall and decided to move up to the ninth selection. He gave up a fourth-round pick to move up two spots and get his guy, Leonard Floyd. Swing and a miss.
Floyd has been riddled with injuries throughout his career. However, that isn’t his complete story. The book Leonard Floyd has written so far isn’t exactly a best-seller. That short story is placed on the shelf right in front of the door to the bookstore, but nobody is buying it.
Floyd wasn’t always in the most advantageous position when he first got to Chicago. The defense was horrible back then. However, that all changed when Pace went and traded for Khalil Mack last season. How many guys in the league get to say they line up opposite of the league’s best pass-rusher? One. His name is Leonard Floyd.
What has Floyd done with that golden opportunity? A whole bunch of nothing is the answer. This season, Floyd came out hot in week one against Green Bay with two sacks of Aaron Rodgers. Since then, nothing. That’s not hyperbole either. He has done literally nothing. No sacks, limited pressures, and few tackles.
The former first-round pick is currently playing in a contract year, as he is slated to become a free agent this coming offseason if the Bears don’t continue with his fifth-year option. If Floyd is still on the Bears roster come March 20, 2020, he will be due $13.2 million next season. There is zero chance the Bears sign up for that. Contract years are when a lot of athletes up their game to secure a larger payday. Floyd, however, has been asleep at the wheel.
Is there any NFL player in a better position across the league? Khalil Mack is facing a double-team (sometimes triple teams) on nearly every single play. Is Floyd ever taking on this type of attention? Absolutely not. The offense’s focus is on 52’s side of the defensive line every single snap. No offensive coordinators are losing sleep over Leonard Floyd.
A former top-ten pick can’t beat one-on-one blocks a few times a game? Floyd is quiet every single Sunday. The only time Floyd has really been noticed this season was last week against Los Angeles when his face mask penalty helped prolong a Chargers touchdown drive. He also had a costly unnecessary roughness penalty earlier in the year.
This Bears defense has surprisingly struggled to get pressure on the quarterback for most of the 2019 season. The Akiem Hicks injury surely did not help. Mack is facing an uphill battle every week with the amount of attention he receives. Floyd has to step up. The moment he begins generating pressure, the floodgates will open for this defensive line.
Anyone who has watched the first four seasons of Leonard Floyd knows not to count on this, however. His M.O. has always been small flashes of pressure followed by immediate letdowns. Leonard Floyd simply is a bust. He isn’t terrible, but for where he was picked, he is a huge draft failure for Ryan Pace.
Realistically, Pace probably should have looked to move Floyd at the trade deadline. The Bears playoff hopes are now slim to none with Green Bay and Minnesota pulling away. Floyd is now all but surely going to walk for nothing in free agency this offseason.
In a season full of disappointments, Leonard Floyd’s quiet year has flown under the radar. That’s what happens when your quarterback is abysmal and your head coach challenges himself to make bigger mistakes every week. However, if you are wondering why the Bears defense has regressed in 2019, look no further than number 94.
Featured Photo: Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports
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