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2016 NFL Draft: The case for, against the Giants drafting LB Leonard Floyd

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Let's look at both sides of the Leonard Floyd to the Giants discussion.

Leonard Floyd (84) forces a fumble
Leonard Floyd (84) forces a fumble
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Linebacker Leonard Floyd is one of the most intriguing, yet divisive prospects in the discussion for the New York Giants at No. 10 in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Some believe he is a rare, freakish athlete who will be a better pro than he was a collegian at Georgia, and who would give the Giants dynamic play-making and pass-rushing ability they currently lack at linebacker.

BBV's Jesse Bartolis falls into this category, writing that "Floyd makes perfect sense on a number of levels." BBV's Chris Pflum also believes in Floyd's fit for the Giants:

Questions about scheme aside, Floyd is an edge rusher and a linebacker who is capable in man coverage. That's almost exactly the kind of player the Giants need.

Scouts are mixed on Floyd's fit for the Giants. Some believe Floyd, because of his skinny 6-foot-6, 244-pound frame, would be an awkward fit in a 4-3, that he is really best suited to be a 3-4 outside linebacker.

We have, of course, already looked at Floyd a number of ways. As the draft approaches and the conversation intensifies let's put him under the case for/case against microscope.

The case for Floyd

In my view, the Giants have been trying to find a player with a skill set similar to Floyd's for many years. They drafted Clint Sintim in the second round in 2009. They tried to convert small-school prospect Adrian Tracy from defensive end to linebacker. Two seasons ago they signed hybrid linebacker/defensive end O'Brien Schofield, only to turn him away when he failed a team physical. In addition to being an edge-rushing weapon, Floyd brings the athleticism to cover and to chase down plays from the back side.

Jesse wrote correctly in his "dark-horse" post about Floyd that "The top players lack the athleticism that is generally associated with a top 10 pick, which is why Floyd will be very appealing."

History shows that GM Jerry Reese, rightly or wrongly, is drawn to measurables, athleticism, and upside. Floyd has those in abundance. We have shown you this before, but look again at Floyd's spider chart.

Originally, I thought of Floyd as a SAM in a 4-3, and that is still where most analysts peg him in a 4-3 scheme. That is the position occupied by Devon Kennard. Increasingly, though, I wonder if that's right. Carl Banks, the last linebacker drafted in in the first round by the Giants (in 1984), told me Floyd is a "much different body type" than Kennard, and an "interesting prospect" who is "3-4 or 4-3 ready." Dan Shonka of Ourlads, a former NFL scout, said Floyd could be "a weak side run and hit linebacker in a 4-3." In its draft guide, Pro Football Focus calls Floyd a "Fantastic run and chase player."

Comments like that make me believe it's possible that Floyd, who has at times even covered slot receivers, could play the WILL.  If you are one of those who believes Floyd would complement rather than duplicate Kennard's skill set, why wouldn't you be interested in him at No. 10? Kennard, 6-3, 250 doesn't have the same athletic gifts that Floyd has.

Initially, the Giants could use Floyd primarily on passing downs as an additional edge rusher. Eventually, he could take over on the weak side from journeymen J.T. Thomas and Jonathan Casillas, each of whom could be in their final seasons with the Giants.

The case against Floyd

The case for the Giants passing on Floyd is three-fold. The "he duplicates Kennard" argument. The "he is a better fit in a 3-4" argument. The "his production doesn't match his physical tools" argument. Let's look at all three.

The Kennard argument

We have already shown that not everyone buys the argument that Floyd and Kennard are the same type of players. There are also, quite obviously, some analysts who do buy it. If you buy that argument, the Giants would eventually have to move Kennard to middle linebacker to make room for Floyd, and if they were of a mind to do that it's unlikely they would have signed a trio of veteran stop-gap middle linebackers this offseason.

There are also plenty of analysts who think trying to play Floyd at the 4-3 SAM would be a disaster. Mocking The Draft's Dan Kadar called it a "tough fit," Scott Wright of Draft Countdown said "In terms of talent the top half of Round 1 isn't a stretch for Floyd, I just don't really see a fit with the Giants."

The 3-4 argument 

With his size and skill set, Floyd is perhaps a more natural fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker. The biggest question about him seems to be whether or not he has the strength to take on blockers at the point of attack, and perhaps that would be mitigated somewhat with a 5-tech defensive end playing in front of, or next to, him.

Charlie Campbell of Walter Football is another of those who believes "Floyd could get consideration from the Giants, but he isn't a great scheme fit for them."

Truthfully, I don't know. The Giants have been burned during the Reese era by trying to fit square pegs into round holes. Sintim and Travis Beckum come to mind, perhaps even Jayron Hosley, Rueben Randle and David Wilson. The argument would be that the 10th pick is too important to take a player if you aren't he fits in the defense you intend to play.

The "potential vs. production" argument

No one fails to see the terrific athletic gifts Floyd possesses. What everyone disagrees about is what the young man will be able to do with them. Those who are leery of Floyd will drop the name Barkevious Mingo, a flop as the sixth overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, as a comparison.

Writing in his annual draft guide, Dane Brugler of CBS Sports is one of those:

Similar to Barkevious Mingo when he came out of LSU, Floyd is one of the best athletes in this draft class, but not one of the best football players and he'll need protected in the NFL, likely as an off-ball linebacker and sub-package rusher - day two prospect, but natural athleticism will likely have him over-drafted in the top-25.

Greg Gabriel of the National Football Post is also not a Floyd fan.

"Don't see him playing over a TE. He isn't strong at the point and can be slow to shed," Gabriel said. "Personally I think he's over rated. Supposed to be a sack guy but only has four sacks (4.5 in 2015)."

On the other side, Pro Football Focus rates him a pure first-round pick and scores him with a pass-rush productivity mark of 17.7, third-best in the country last season among collegiate edge rushers. PFF also believes Floyd would be best in a 3-4, but compares him to Bruce Irvin, and writes:

You don't find athletes like Floyd every day. He'll have to develop more moves as a pass rusher, but the raw tools are there. His ability to play on or off the line of scrimmage makes him the kind of weapon defensive coordinators covet.

Final thoughts

Floyd remains a conundrum. For the Giants, probably a high-risk, high-reward player. Should they swing for the fences with a pick like Floyd, or try to make a safer play? What would you do, Giants fans?