Willie Young – Was on the roster bubble going into the 2105 season as a classic 4-3 defensive end who most didn’t think could adjust to a 3-4 OLB position. Young surprised everyone last season by being one of the Bears best OLBs in the 2nd half and still an excellent defensive end when given a chance to put a hand down on the line of scrimmage as a four-front defensive end.
The Bears have been so impressed with Young that they are supposedly talking about extending him for another few years as a hybrid DE/OLB. Floyd had 6.5 sacks in just over half of a season and his versatility to play with his hand in ground or as a stand-up OLB gives him a rare ability to be good at both positions which very few people can do.
There is a reason the Bears want to extended Young, his professionalism presents a good example to younger players, but there are only a handful of players in the NFL who can play well as both an even-front DE and and odd-front OLB in this league. It may have been a small sample size, but Young appears to be one of them, which could earn him a few more years on the Bears roster.
Leonard Floyd– He’s 6-6, 244 pounds, but can get around the corner faster than anyone on the Bears roster. If it were up to me, Floyd would be lining up across from McPhee every third down. He’s a far cry productivity wise from Houston and Young and most likely won’t be starting for the Bears in 2016, but he should be playing on any non-short yardage 3rd down.
Floyd’s burst off the line and ability to bend almost parallel to the line of scrimmage is not only rare in Chicago but in the whole NFL. He gives the Bears a legitimate weapon as a pass rusher off the edge that the Bears haven’t had in a long time.
Floyd needs to get stronger to beat NFL-sized tackles, but he played against some of the best college tackles in the SEC and had plenty of success over the last few seasons (17.5 sacks, 26.5 TFLs) and a ton of pressures that college stats don’t keep track of.
Georgia used Floyd as an inside linebacker almost half the time and gave him both coverage and edge setting responsibilities. If the Bears were to give Floyd a simple job as a rookie, like say… go get the QB, he could end up with a double-digit sack total despite playing around half the defensive snaps. It seems weird that Georgia used Floyd in coverage and run-support, but he flashed talent in both and is probably only a year or two away from becoming a complete 3-down OLB for the Bears.
Next: Long-Shot OLB Options