After we got to the point in this top-20 list that only eight players remained, a Turf Show Times reader posted their guess in the comments section of who the top-eight would be. But that commenter could only think of seven names before giving up and guessing... “Matt Gay?”
The missing name was Leonard Floyd and I think that is the perfect descriptor to prove how Floyd has become the “lost man” on the Los Angeles Rams.
Despite all the attention and automatic fandom that one gets by being a top-10 pick, and even though Floyd has also posted a double-digit sack season, been paid handsomely, and won a Super Bowl, the edge rusher is nowhere near being a superstar.
Is it because Floyd’s sack production was underwhelming over his four-year career with the Chicago Bears? Typically when a team picks an edge player with the ninth overall pick, especially with the Bears, and especially when that player is later paired with Khalil Mack, the expectation is that he will consistently annoy opposing quarterbacks.
In Floyd’s case, a seven-sack rookie season over 12 games was followed up by a total of 11.5 sacks over his final three years and 42 games in Chicago.
And even though Floyd has seen an uptick in sack production with the Rams, recording 20 of them in his first 33 regular season games and four more in six playoff games, even L.A.’s fans can sometimes forget that he’s even on the roster.
Well, should a game come this season when the Rams do not have Leonard Floyd on the roster, you will probably remember him then.
As usual, Aaron Donald led the Rams with 41 pressures, 12.5 sacks, and 10 quarterback knockdowns in 2021. But Floyd was close behind Donald with 37 pressures, 9.5 sacks, and six knockdowns, and he led the team with 18 QB hurries as well, which was two more than AD.
The only other player who had five sacks was Von Miller, who now plays for the Buffalo Bills, but even Miller only had 14 pressures over his eight regular season appearances for L.A. The only other player who was close to the amount of pressures provided by those three was Greg Gaines, who had 21 pressures, 4.5 sacks, six knockdowns, and nine hurries.
- Terrell Lewis has seven pressures and three sacks in 367 snaps
- Justin Hollins had four pressures and two sacks in 223 snaps
- Chris Garrett didn’t play
- Daniel Hardy was in college
With Miller departing in free agency, the Rams are down to just one edge player with any proven skills at the NFL level for getting to the quarterback, and he might also be L.A.’s best run defender.
Rams fans, you don’t want to forget about Leonard Floyd.
#6 - OLB Leonard Floyd
Coming up on his 30th birthday in September, is there a sliver of hope that Floyd can ever be better than the version we saw last season? Maybe slightly, but the consistent ability to get to the quarterback prior to Miller’s arrival (Floyd had 7.5 sacks before Miller’s first start, two sacks after Miller was added) last season was the best we’ve ever seen from him and it’s not even close.
Even though Floyd had more sacks in 2020, a lot of that production came in three games (two against Russell Wilson, one against his old team) and he spread it out more evenly in 2021.
The problem is—and I’m speaking more about perception than production—Floyd’s efforts on the field don’t lead to the type of plays that typically draw “oohs and ahhs” it would seem. For example: Five of Floyd’s 9.5 sacks last season came when the Rams were either up or down by more than 15 points.
Example: He had 1.5 sacks of Davis Mills in a short period of time when the Rams were leading the Texans 31-0. But he only had 1.5 sacks on the year when the score differential was seven points or less.
Consider how much more exciting and impactful a sack is when the Rams are down by four and trying to get the ball back, vs. up 38-11 on the Giants and sacking Daniel Jones long after Daniel Jones stopped caring.
Floyd also had 4.5 sacks and 10 QB hits in four games against the terrible AFC South last year, as compared to two sacks and three quarterback hits in the six all-important games against the NFC West.
Would Rams fans leave him off of another top-eight list if Floyd had saved his best for the San Francisco 49ers? In L.A.’s two losses to the 49ers last year (before beating them in the NFC Championship game of course!), Floyd had four tackles, zero tackles for a loss, zero QB hits, and zero pressures. In the NFC Championship, Floyd had one pressure on nine blitzes.
He ultimately finished the season ranked slightly above average in pass rush win rate, but he did so as the outside linebacker who was double-teamed the least often of any other edge player in the NFL. Only Von Miller was as close (THANK YOU AD) and Miller had a better pass rush win rate.
End of season edge chart!— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) January 14, 2022
Double team rate when pass rushing at edge (x) by pass rush win rate at edge (y).
Note: Micah Parsons did not qualify at edge, but I included him anyway because, well, look where he is.
(ESPN / NFL Next Gen Stats) pic.twitter.com/iIHcofzLuj
However, Leonard Floyd is the best that the Rams have to offer at edge and without him the drop-off is steep and could lead to L.A. making another trade for a different edge player in 2022.
Not only is Floyd a good player, he’s also a rich one and it is unlikely that he will stop being a Ram any time soon. Though he only has an $8 million cap hit in 2022 thanks to restructuring his contract, that move practically guaranteed his presence on the roster in 2023 at a cap hit of $22 million. L.A. would only save $3 million of that if they released Floyd. In 2024, his cap hit is $22.5 million, with $12.5 million in dead money, if released.
Before they can even consider such a move, they need to find another Leonard Floyd. Until that happens, he’s one of the most important players on the roster.
Which of these linebacker is most important to the 2022 LA Rams?
This poll is closed
ILB Bobby Wagner
OLB Leonard Floyd