One of the hallmarks of Clay Matthews’ Pro Bowl season was his versatility, with his ability to stop the run on first down, drop into coverage on second down and rush the passer on third down.
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy wants Matthews to go back home to outside linebacker. That, of course, means they need to fill Matthews’ shoes at inside linebacker.
One option could be Georgia’s Leonard Floyd, who has a bit of Matthews-like versatility to his game.
“No task is too much for Floyd to handle, evident by his accepting his role as the team’s jack-of-all-trades,” notes longtime NFL scout Dave-Te’ Thomas’ scouting report. “He has been utilized at all four linebacker spots, and even put in some time as a 5-tech.”
That versatility is something quickly mentioned by scouts, though a scout who works for a 3-4-scheme defense told Packer Report that he likes Floyd more on the outside.
“I talked to multiple teams that see me as a pass rusher,” Floyd said at the Scouting Combine. “Some teams also see me playing inside linebacker.”
A Matthews-style role also was mentioned during his discussions with teams.
“We talked a little bit about that, me playing inside then on third down going to an outside linebacker role and rushing the passer,” said Floyd, not speaking specifically about the Packers.
As a junior in 2015, Floyd was a finalist for the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker and was second-team all-SEC. Floyd tallied 74 tackles (37 solos) with 4.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for losses, three passes broken up and 15 quarterback pressures.
Some of these secondary numbers explain why fellow Georgia linebacker David Bellamy compared Floyd to NBA star LeBron James, who is as likely to score 30 points as he is to grab 10 rebounds or record 10 assists.
According to STATS, Floyd recorded 22 run disruptions and nine stuffs (a tackle that holds the run to 0 yards or less). Almost half of his tackles were within 2 yards of the line of scrimmage. While his sack total wasn’t great, he ranked ninth nationally with 32 pressures.
“A big strength of my game would be my speed,” Floyd said. “A weakness would probably be me (not) having more than one pass rush move. I can work on it and come up with a new move that I can go to rather than just using speed.”
In coverage, he allowed eight completions in 15 targets with three breakups.
“I definitely believe it’s a strength, me being able to cover guys,” he said. “I feel like teams can use that.”
Floyd offers an imposing package of size and athleticism. He measured in at 6-foot-5 5/8 and 244 pounds at the Combine. He showed incredible athleticism with a 4.60 in the 40-yard dash with a 39.5-inch vertical leap. The Packers had two scouts at the Bulldogs’ pro day on Wednesday.
In three seasons, Floyd won postseason honors three times (also earning honorable mention all-SEC as a sophomore and Freshman All-America). He started 32 games and was in on 184 tackles (92 solos), 17 sacks, 28.5 tackles for losses and five forced fumbles.
With his size and athleticism, coupled with his versatility, production and attitude, there’s certainly no guarantee that Floyd makes it to Green Bay’s slot at No. 27 of the first round.
“I love football,” he said. “I’ll play anywhere the coach wants me to play.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.