How have other former first-round picks fared in their first three seasons compared to Leonard Floyd?
2019 is going to be an important season for Leonard Floyd. While the Chicago Bears did pick up his fifth-year option, Floyd is likely going to get his best offer from the Bears in terms of an extension before he enters his final year under contract.
Without a breakout year, Floyd will lose leverage when it comes to one of the bigger negotiations of his career. The contract of Floyd will be interesting to see.
Floyd is an interesting player in that he is a top ten pick who has not lived up to that billing. However, do not get it mistaken, Leonard Floyd is good. The question the Bears will soon face is how good?
To try to gauge his value and to track his career compared to his peers, we will go through a few prominent stats and see how Floyd stacks up to recent first round picks. We will only use draft picks since 2011, as the CBA changed rules in terms of passing, and rookies playing earlier into their career.
What is interesting to note is that despite a completely different career arch, Dante Fowler recorded 16 sacks through three NFL seasons. Quinton Coples and Bud Dupree are both within a sack of Floyd while Dee Ford had just as many sacks as Floyd. Ford then exploded with 13 sacks in his fifth season.
Jadeveon Clowney is the most notable player to have fewer sacks than Floyd and then see a breakout later on. Clowney had 10.5 sacks through three seasons and put up 18.5 in the next two years.
Leonard Floyd was drafted because he can do more than just rush the passer. When teamed up with Khalil Mack, the pressure of putting up sacks can be absolved by being active elsewhere. However, he stacks up in similar territory for solo tackles as well.
Floyd ranks 19th in solo tackles, compiling 81 in three seasons. Once again Khalil Mack is pacing Floyd with 170 in that span. Players in the neighborhood of Floyd include Whitney Mercilus, Vic Beasley, and Corey Liuget. Floyd had slightly more tackles than Mercilus, but Mercilus had 2.5 more sacks, while Beasley had nine more sacks through three seasons. Floyd does have 32 more tackles than Dee Ford.
Tackles For Loss
For someone who plays more in space, tackles for loss may not be the stat for Floyd. However, he remains consistent with his sack and tackle totals, seeing 19 first round players show higher tackle for loss numbers at this stage of their career.
Floyd has 23 tackles for loss which ties Cameron Jordan and D’Onta Hightower. Bud Dupree and Jadeveon Clowney remain similar comparisons to Floyd through three seasons with close tackle for loss numbers. And, once again Khalil Mack sits near the top with 53 tackles for loss in his first three years.
Once again we see Floyd consistently be a player who was not a hit of a top ten pick but was not a bust either. Floyd has 32 quarterback hits, which is respectable, but has 20 first round picks since 2011 see a better total through three years.
Dee Ford and Shane Ray sit as his closest comparables. Floyd also has more quarterback hits than Clowney and Dupree, who have had similar totals in other stats. Then, there is Khalil Mack who has 62 quarterback hits, which actually sits at seventh amongst his peers.
So many Bears are screaming at their screens right now. “What Floyd does will not show up in the stat sheet.” Yes, this is true that he helps out in coverage. However, it is not like he is taking picks to the house every week or making game-changing pass breakups.
In fact, Pro Football Reference put together a stat called “Approximate Value” which will put together all of his plays and weight them to his peers. In this area, he sees a small boost, but it is not major which matches his on-field value of being more valuable than his sack totals, but not having a major effect either.
Most comparable players
When going through the excersise three players consistently stood out in the same area as Floyd. Jadeveon Clowney, Dee Ford, and. Bud Dupree. As shown below, Floyd compares favorably to these three across the board.
Of course, it has to be noted that Clowney missed his first season due to injury. Still, Floyd and Dupree have had issues as well and have only played in seven more games. Dee Ford has played in 14 more than Clowney and seven more than Dupree and Floyd in that time.
When looking at their per game metrics, Clowney is much closer to the pack, but still does not stand out.
When looking at the three players that Floyd can compare to most, you can almost see his potential outcomes moving forward.
Clowney continued to ascend, put two strong years together and was franchise tagged with the intentions of an extension. Injuries held back Clowney and he is used in a variety of ways as well.
Dee Ford has been up and down but broke out in year five after a questionable year four. The Chiefs were not convinced on his erratic play and franchised Ford before trading him and replacing. him with Frank Clark.
Bud Dupree is a raw athlete who has had ups and downs, had injuries and is now playing with a higher upside athlete across from him in T.J. Watt. The Steelers picked up the fifth-year option for Dupree, but do not have plans of extending him before year five.
Floyd can compare to each situation in a couple of ways. However, one thing that is worth noting is that all four saw their fifth-year option picked up, but none of them have been extended either. Will Floyd go down a similar path?