Bears trade up, take Georgia OLB Leonard Floyd

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The Bears drafted Georgia edge rusher Leonard Floyd. (AP)

Three months after John Fox’s former team won the Super Bowl with a spectacular collection of pass rushers, Bears GM Ryan Pace moved toward giving the coach a collection to call his own.

He paid to acquire Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd, too, trading the Bears’ No. 11 overall pick and a fourth-rounder, No. 106, for the Buccaneers’ No. 9 selection on Thursday.

Fox had bemoaned his team’s lack of speed rush — particularly in nickel and dime formations, which they play more than half the time — during the offseason.

Floyd fixes that — even if, at 6-6, 244 pounds, he might not be well-equipped against the run.

“(Fox has) been pounding the table to add these kind of guys for awhile,” Pace said. “And we talk during the season: ‘Hey, Ryan, we gotta get off the field on third down, we gotta get off the field on third down.’

“We needed guys to help us in that area and this is the type of player that can help that, add a major pass rush threat to our defense.”

Floyd will play outside linebacker in the 3-4, though Pace noted that he rushed inside at Georgia, too. Think Pernell McPhee, the Swiss Army knife defender signed away from the Ravens last offseason.

The Bears jumped at Floyd because they feared the Giants nab take him with the 10th pick. Pace called Buccaneers GM Jason Licht in the two days leading up to the draft and when they were on the clock.

Floyd, though, believed the Bears were his team.

“They showed me the most love out of any of the other teams I’ve been to,” he said on the phone.

Instead of attending theAuditorium Theatre downtown, Floyd stayed in Georgia — he wanted to be with family, and it was cheaper. He will fly to Halas Hall on Friday.

Skeptics said Floyd needed to improve his strength to handle the NFL run game, and Floyd acknowledges as much. He was a pass-rush specialist in college, leading the Bulldogs with 4 ½ sacks last year.

The Bears have done body analysis on Floyd, but say they’ll keep him around 240 pounds or so.

“When you see him playing the run on the edge of the defense, he uses his hands really well and he plays with such great separation that it’s hard for guys to get into him,” Pace said. “I think that helps him a lot even though he’s a little thinner framed.”

At the NFL Scouting Combine, he ran a 4.60 40-yard dash, jumped 39.5 inches high and 127 inches across. The Bears are intrigued by his arm length, too —they’re 33 1/8 inches.

“Arm length, we find, is critical for almost every single position,” Pace said.

The Bears are banking on that, and other measurables, as they continue to build Fox a collection of pass-rushers.

“(He) brings some juice to our defense that we need,” Pace said, “and will definitely help our pass rush.”


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