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NFL Draft

How Leonard Floyd Is Finding Plenty Of Success With Rams

  • The Draft Network
  • December 29, 2020
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Los Angeles Rams edge defender Leonard Floyd is having a very nice season in Los Angeles. Just ask his teammate Aaron Donald.

Back in October, the Rams All-World defensive tackle said of his teammate Floyd: “he’s just playing good ball. He’s stout in the run and then when it comes to the pass rush, he’s got good technique, he knows how to work different things, change up his rushes and he’s taking advantage of that and he’s making plays.”

Well, thank goodness the Rams have someone on the team who can defend the run.


But, in all seriousness, Floyd is having a great year. His two sacks this past weekend give him 9.5 for the year, which is a career high. His 53 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and 18 QB hits are also career highs. 

Floyd is in his first season with the Rams after a four-year career in Chicago. The former No. 9 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft didn’t really live up to expectations as a pass rusher with the Bears, failing to record double-digit sacks in any of his four years in Chicago—and, in fact, had diminishing totals from 7.0 to 4.5 to 4.0 to 3.0. The Bears were hoping that the addition of Khalil Mack would help Floyd, but it never did. This caused the Bears to not pick up his option, and he was released. As a free agent, Floyd signed a one-year deal with the Rams.

Now in Los Angeles, he seems to be much more comfortable in his pass-rush positions. It could be the fact that he’s going up against right tackles the majority of the time, as opposed to left tackles, but it could certainly be the presence of Aaron Donald in the middle or the alignment of how they are having him rush.

Since Floyd had his best game against the Seattle Seahawks both times—no, seriously, he has more sacks against the Seahawks this season (5) than he did in total for each of the previous three seasons—I decided to watch those games to get a better understanding of Floyd’s success.

Floyd was the stand-up rusher on the right side of the defense in the play above. The Seahawks had a double-tight end look for him, as one tight end was directly in front of him, and then the other was attached to the line of scrimmage on his side for the strong side of the line. After the snap, it was just the immediate tight end who tried to contain Floyd on the run play, and he wasn’t able to. Floyd has always been a “motor runs hot” guy, and when you combine that with his obnoxiously long limbs, it makes it tough to contain him when holding the point of attack during run plays.

In the play above, Floyd was the edge defender to the strong side of the Seahawks’ zone running play. If you’ll slow the video down a bit, you can see that if Floyd was unable to get off the block, the running back had a caravan of offensive linemen climbing to the second level and into space.

But Floyd, in his wide-9 alignment, was once again too much for a single tight end to contain on the edge. He was able to extend his arm, get some inside leverage, control the block, and disengage at the time the back was reaching him. Floyd has been great at setting the edge for the Rams this season, and these plays were evidence of that.

Now let’s get into some money plays for Floyd: the sacks. 

I loved the sack above because it highlighted what Floyd naturally does so well. The Rams and the Bears seemed to get success from Floyd starting as a wide-9 player way outside the offensive tackle alignment and then stunting him back inside as a looping player up the A-gap. In the play above, Floyd was able to work through the chip block of the running back, and his speed across the line of scrimmage was too much for the guard who was asked to block him. Floyd was then able to slip the block of the guard once again due to his annoyingly-long limbs, and eventually found himself in position to pick up the sack.

A clean pass-rush win sack? No, but one where Floyd held value nonetheless.

Here’s the last clip for this study on Floyd. In it, he finished a sack, which highlights his career year, but again, it wasn’t like a clean, one-on-one dominant sack, which brings you back down a bit to the reality of who Floyd is.

Floyd went for a cross chop with a little extra flair to it (somewhat of a euro-step move), and though he didn’t get around the left tackle, he was able to get his arm on the outside of the tackle’s frame. This allowed him to be in position to rip off the block and to the inside once Wilson climbed the pocket. The result: another Floyd sack of the Seahawks.

The Rams seem to have a thing for former first-round pick pass rushers, as they found success with Dante Fowler and now Floyd. While Floyd isn’t likely to become the premier edge rusher the Bears envisioned when they selected him in the top 10, his skill set is clearly working well in the Rams’ front.

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