The Bears found themselves in an interesting position as the NFL Draft fell to them Thursday night. With both offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and linebacker Myles Jack in free fall out of the top ten (and out of the first round in the latter case), general manager Ryan Pace knew that something had to be done as players that might have otherwise fallen to the teams in front of him went off the board. And something he did.
Kudos to Pace for having the guts to trade up and get the guy he wanted. Some of the people in the Bears organization apparently learned a lesson in 2014 when they missed on defensive tackle Aaron Donald in the first round by one pick. That didn’t happen here as the Bears evidently got their guy.
And its now evident that Leonard Floyd was their target all along. Pace said there was a consensus on Floyd and, in particular, that they that head coach John Fox wanted Floyd or someone like him. “‘(Fox has) been pounding the table to add these kind of guys for awhile,’ Pace said. ‘And we talk during the season: ‘Hey, Ryan, we gotta get off the field on third down, we gotta get off the field on third down.’”.
What that means is that Tunsil, possibly the best player in the draft, was never a serious consideration. The Bears have been extra wary about taking character risks since the Ray McDonald affair and they’re evidently very serious about liking Charles Leno at left tackle, even given that Tunsil probably was an upgrade.
But that doesn’t mean that Floyd isn’t a risk, albeit one of another type.
Floyd was decidedly unproductive in college in terms of sacks with only 17 over 3 years at Georgia, 4.5 last year with 10.5 tackles for loss. Floyd and fellow 2016 draftee Darron Lee give the same vibe, one of a player with tantalizing physical tools who has never put it together to show that he can reach his potential to play football. Think Vic Beasley, drafted by the Falcons in 2015 but with only a disappointing 4.5 sacks last season.
Pace said, and a scout from another NFC North team backed it up, that he believed that Floyd’s lack of production came because the coaches didn’t put him in the best position to succeed, sometimes using him as an inside linebacker to stop the run. The unnamed scout, in particular, was emphatic. “I have no idea what the hell they were thinking. You watch the tape and this kid can get after the quarterback. It’s like they didn’t know what they had. Shame on them.”
That sounds an awful lot like an excuse to me.
In any case, the Bears are relying heavily on a very good defensive staff to develop Floyd. And that might be the best reason to believe that ultimately this will turn out to be a good pick. If there’s anything Bears fans learned last year, it’s that the defense will be well coached and Fangio has helped develop some of the best players in football.
Now that the Bears got their guy, the only question left is whether he was the right guy. Watching Floyd develop (or not) is just one more reason to be fascinated with the Bears as the 2016 season will now rush towards us over the next few months.