Leonard Floyd Wouldn’t Be the First Late-Blooming Pass Rusher


A lot of people out there, this writer included aren’t the biggest believers in Leonard Floyd. It’s not hard to understand why. The young man was drafted 9th overall in 2016. He was selected in the belief he’d become the next franchise pass rusher for the Chicago Bears. After two years, the waiting continued. Problems surface. Setbacks kept happening.

GM Ryan Pace couldn’t afford to wait on him any longer. The Bears traded for Khalil Mack in the late summer of 2018. While the star rusher issue had been solved, the waiting on Floyd continued. He’d broken his hand in the preseason, adding to the list of his health issues. As a result, he failed to register a sack through the first half of the season.

He would finish with just four, his worst total to date. All told Floyd has 15.5 sacks across three years. Not exactly inspiring numbers. It’s hard not to wonder if Floyd will ever turn the corner in his career. Thankfully there’s evidence out there to believe this should happen, and happen soon.

Leonard Floyd isn’t first pass rusher who’d get a late start to his career

Typically, most pass rushers turn the switch on in their careers around Year 3. Some get started sooner of course but that is the general trend when looking at the list of top sack artists in NFL history. However, scattered amidst those greats are other players. Those who took a bit longer than normal to get it going, whether it be due to injuries or position switches or simple lack of progress.

Leonard Little
  • First 3 seasons – 5.5 sacks
  • Next 3 seasons – 39 sacks
Robert Porcher
  • First 4 seasons – 17.5 sacks
  • Next 4 seasons – 49 sacks
Jacob Green
  • First 3 seasons – 3 sacks
  • Next 3 seasons – 42.5 sacks
Simon Fletcher
  • First 3 seasons – 10.5 sacks
  • Next 3 seasons – 32 sacks
Clyde Simmons
  • First 3 seasons – 16 sacks
  • Next 3 seasons – 36 sacks

All of those men finished with 87.5 sacks or more in their NFL careers. It should be proof that slow starts don’t automatically mean having a productive career as a pass rusher is out of the question. Far from it. Floyd has always flashed the ability to do it. The issue is a mix of staying healthy and learning how to use all of the tools available to him with consistency. There is no reason to think that can’t happen in 2019.