To absolutely no one’s surprise, both Leonard Floyd and Todd Gurley have been tabbed as 2015 NFL Prospects. Despite being only a sophomore—Floyd is the NFL’s pre-requisite three-years removed from his graduating high school class—many view Floyd as a potential defensive superstar at the next level.
ESPN’s Todd McShay believes Floyd could be every bit the prospect Barkevious Mingo ($$$) was for the LSU Tigers—Mingo was eventually selected by the NFL’s Cleveland Browns (6th overall).
…He explodes out of the blocks with elite get-off speed and acceleration, and he shows really good natural bend and body control. He has flashed the potential to effectively convert speed to power as a pass-rusher despite needing to improve his strength. There’s no doubt he has the speed and athleticism to handle coverage assignments as a 3-4 outside linebacker…
I don’t know that Floyd would consider making the jump after just one season under the guidance of his new position coach, but it’s clear that if he has a strong season, and opts to stay one more year, he could be a top pick come 2016—especially if he continues to put on weight and add muscle to his frame.
As for Gurley, everyone is well aware of his merits, and though McShay doesn’t feel Gurley rates as high on the board as Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, he does like what he’s seen from him thus far.
Gurley is a freight train. He’s a hard, downhill runner who is a load to bring down. He runs a little bit high and takes some big shots to his frame, but he’s the most powerful back we studied during the preseason. He’d be a perfect fit in a power-based rushing attack, and he compares favorably to Marshawn Lynch in that regard. But what separates Gurley from a lot of other big, punishing runners is his very good top-end speed. If he catches a crease, it’s a big problem for the defense. The only real negative with Gurley — outside of durability concerns — is his lack of ideal lateral agility. He takes a bit too long to gather before making cuts and he doesn’t show great initial acceleration off his plant foot. But in the right offense that weakness can be minimized to a certain degree.
You can bet Gurley looked to address the growing concerns about his “durability” this past off-season. And, according to position coach Bryan McClendon, Gurley is in the best shape of his career, so this could be the year everyone sees what Gurley can do when he’s not hampered by aches and pains.
No doubt Gurley’s physical prowess will be tested this season—as teams look to make senior quarterback Hutson Mason beat them by loading up the box and attacking the run game—but you can be sure he understands the payoff of doing well under such enormous pressure; it’s his year to truly show he can be a wire-to-wire player for the Bulldogs, and if he brings his ‘A’ game every week, the Bulldogs will definitely be in the thick of things come playoff time.
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