Chicago Bears: Is Harold Landry an option at 8?
When discussing the Chicago Bears options at pick eight in the 2018 NFL draft, a few names consistently come up. Between Quenton Nelson, Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edmunds, Denzel Ward and Minkah Fitzpatrick, one will certainly be there at pick number eight and this is the short list of players the team will choose from. However, it could be worth the question as to whether or not we are missing someone. Is Harold Landry worthy of joining that list in consideration for being a top ten pick?
The first reason to think that Landy could be on the short list of players the Bears are mulling over is the value of drafting a pass rusher. Behind a quarterback, attacking the quarterback is the second most important aspect of football. No matter how good your corners, if a quarterback can sit back forever, he is going to find an opening.
Ryan Pace understands positional value. He flexed it to the extreme in the past two seasons by trading up for Leonard Floyd and Mitchell Trubisky. A pass rusher and a quarterback. The Bears are thinking they will not be picking in the top ten again, and they have a need on the edge, with Aaron Lynch penciled in as a starter. The need and the value is there and Pace understands that.
The fact of the matter is that if Landry grades very similarly to one of the off-ball linebackers, he is the better value. The question is whether or not Landry is worth the swing.
The fact of the matter is that when judging his 2017 tape, he is unlikely to be looked at as a top ten pick. Heck, he finished the season with just five sacks. However, his 2016 was elite. So elite that his 21.5 combined sacks over the past two seasons are one more than Bradley Chubb, who has 20 sacks over that span. His 2016 tackle for loss total of 26.5 would be the highest of Chubb’s career as well.
Landry is an explosive player who jumps off of the ball and can bend around the edge, under the reach of tackles. His bend is elite and gets him to the quarterback with ease.
Many question Landry for his run defense. It is not his strength, but in 2016, his explosion was on display to consistently beat tackles into the backfield for tackles for loss.
2016 Harold Landry was a top ten pick and would have Bears fans hoping he would fall to pick number eight.
In 2017, he was not quite the same player. Harold Landry suffered an ankle injury early in the season, and may not have quite recovered while playing through it. Maybe he was comfortable with his draft status after his 2016 tape and was not risking injury by pushing himself beyond his comfort level? He played, but his explosiveness came and went. Whatever the matter, it needs to be addressed.
His pass rush was inconsistent, but it was still there. He could show the bend, as shown in the play below. His 2017 tape still gives you double digit sack upside in the NFL.
However, the biggest question mark that came away from his 2017 was how strong he could hold up in run support. If he was ineffective on early downs, his value could not be as a top ten player, right?
Related Story: Harold Landry draft profile
As shown below, he is stood up and shoved to the side as he shows little burst and questionable effort in comparison to his 2016 tape.
Tight end Durham Smythe is known as a reliable blocking tight end in this draft class. That does not mean you want to see him sealing off a potential top ten pick in Harold Landry.
Still, this area, like his pass rush, was less about complete ineffectiveness and more about inconsistency. In 2016, he was consistently a force, can he get back to that level?
Was it lack of effort? Was it an injury? We should have found out at the combine. What we as a public learned was that Landry was the explosive, elite athlete that showed from his 2016 tape.
Pro Football Focus sees Landry as a top ten player in this class based on his combine. They see him as one of the few rare prospects in this draft class.
"Harold Landry’s 6.88-second 3-cone at 252-pounds puts him in rarified air for top prospects. Below is every single 250-plus pound defensive lineman drafted in the first round that had a sub-6.9-second 3-cone:"
- DeMarcus Ware
- J.J. Watt
- David Pollack
- Melvin Ingram
- Joey Bosa
- T.J. Watt
Considering that T.J. Watt had seven sacks as a rookie, and Pollack’s career was lost due to injury, this is almost a can’t miss player based on his weight adjusted bend.
As for the medicals and inconsistencies in 2017, teams got to meet with him, and while the general public may not know, NFL teams may have heard what they wanted to hear.
Leonard Floyd’s junior year was the lowest sack total of his career. He put up just 4.5. Floyd went to the combine, showed upside worth investing in, and became a top ten pick at a valuable position. Now, of course, his low sack totals were more due to playing off of the ball than injury.
However, Eddie Jackson did not play the second half of his 2016 season. He was hardly cleared to do anything by the time the combine rolled around. Pace and company had no issue taking the upside in a playmaker knowing that past tape can prove out on the field. Pace could be the type of person to bet on the extreme upside and explosion that is Harold Landry. Heck, Landry was fully healthy and explosive by the combine.
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The question becomes where he fits. While he did play from both sides, most of his work was done on Leonard Floyd’s side, against right tackles. Can Floyd switch to the other side? Would Landry?
On top of that, both are more finesse pass rushers. Floyd is better overall in space but wins with speed. So does Landry. Neither wins with power and while Floyd is versatile and strong off of the ball, he is not elite when it comes to holding down the edge.
While it may not be peanut butter and jelly at first another adage is put the talent on the field and let it work itself out. Landry is a double-digit sack talent. That alone, run defense aside, puts him Pro Bowl consideration. Bet on that.
Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman are two of the most underrated players in the NFL thanks to their run defense. Many see run defense as boring and less pretty, but Goldman holds down the fort, and Hicks excels behind the line of scrimmage.
With Roy Robertson-Harris, Jonathan Bullard and more behind them, the beef is there. The combination of speed on the outside would be a great pairing and potentially deadly duo.
It is not the most mocked selection, and there is no fire to the idea yet. Still, Harold Landry might be a dark horse that no one is talking about rising into the top ten and being a fit for the Chicago Bears needs.