Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd may not have the production of Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, or the freakish size advantage of South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery, but he just might be the safest option at wide receiver in the 2012 class.
Blackmon and Jeffery both carry Top 10 grades from me at this time, and are likely early selections in the 2012 NFL draft. But where does Floyd, the top senior wide receiver, rank and how does his game translate to the NFL?
MICHAEL FLOYD - WIDE RECEIVER- NOTRE DAME
6'3", 224 lbs, 4.54 speed (projected)
2011 season: 100 catches, 1,147 yards, 9 touchdowns
Overall: One area that didn't show up on film was Floyd's ability to catch and accelerate away from defenders. You will notice in each clip below that Floyd makes the majority of his catches in traffic. This does show off his exceptional concentration and good catching ability, but it poses new questions about his ability to separate from defenses.
Film Study: There are two things to watch here. First, watch as Floyd uses a move to get open from tight coverage. He then has the presence of mind and agility to reverse field, accelerate and pick up extra yards on a key play in the game.
Overall: Floyd does show good agility, but it's not great. He looked faster and more athletic in 2011, but I worry about his flexibility and his burst in the open field. These are two areas to monitor during Senior Bowl week.
Film Study: I played wide receiver and coached the position—and this is textbook. Floyd drives off the snap and sells his route. Until he breaks down and inside on the cornerback, we're not sure if he's blocking or running a slant.
Floyd positions himself so the defender has to come through him to make the tackle. This is what separates his ability and effort from the other receivers in this class. This is a very small thing, but it's a key to success in the NFL.
Overall: One thing I loved about Julio Jones last season was his ability and effort as a blocker. Michael Floyd is similar. He's willing, which is rare in the diva era of wide receivers, and does more than run off coverage. He's engaged and ready to get his hands dirty.
Film Study: Catching the football is all about concentration. There were a good number of clips that would show Floyd's ability to catch the football cleanly, but I enjoyed this catch the most.
The route here is also good, as Floyd positions himself away from the cornerback with a crisp cut, but watch his concentration. He never worries about the cornerback jumping the route because he has blocked him out with his back. Floyd looks the ball in, secures it and then reaches across the goal line for a touchdown.
Overall: I did see a few drops on Floyd's 2010 film, but he's much improved in this area during the 2011 season. The few drops I did chart could be chalked up to bad timing or poor throws.
Overall: I had planned to show cut-ups of this, but in four games evaluated, Floyd was never pressed at the line of scrimmage. Every college team chose to play him with off coverage—the cornerback at least seven yards off the ball. This is a testament to the respect Floyd demands from college corners.
Route Running: 8.5
Film Study: I like to show NFL-style routes in this area, and that's what we see from Floyd. This is a simple out-route, but it's a cornerstone of many offenses today.
Watch as Floyd drills his inside (right) foot into the ground and changes direction. The poor cornerback never has a chance to recover and make up ground.
I'm going to be very picky here and tell you that Floyd did round off this route, meaning there's too much curve in his change from running vertical to horizontal. This route will work in college, but not in the NFL. If there is one area that bothers me most about Floyd, this is it. I need to see crisper transitions.
Overall: Floyd has a good understanding of routes and how to get in and out of his breaks. I like the fact that he doesn't kick his feet out too far away from his body when changing direction. Instead he keeps his feet and legs in line, which limits the amount of time it will take him to cut and accelerate in a new direction.
Film Study: Check out the clip here. You notice two things; 1) Floyd is head-and-shoulders taller than the cornerback. That's an easy plus. 2) Floyd does a great job high-pointing the ball—which means he goes up to catch the football at its highest point. He doesn't wait on the football, he attacks it. That's an NFL skill.
Overall: Floyd has ideal NFL size; he easily passes the eyeball test. A little-known fact is that he actually dropped weight before the 2011 season to add some acceleration.
Overall: Floyd has good speed, but not great. You won't find him running away from defenders after the catch. In fact, one thing that jumps off the film to me is that Floyd is constantly making receptions in traffic. This indicates that he's not separating from defenders, which can show a lack of speed.
Floyd's speed and short-area agility will be something I watch closely at the Senior Bowl.
NFL Comparison: Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
Jordy Nelson may have Floyd beat in a foot race, but it's close. They are very similar in size, and even in what they do best on the field.
Like Nelson, Floyd is best when working across the coverage. He excels when asked to run horizontal across the field, moving through traffic and through coverages to find openings. This is a route every NFL team runs in some form, and Floyd is a master at catching on the run and securing the football while moving.
Nelson may be a better athlete, but Floyd has the potential to be a similar player in the NFL.
This scouting report began with me stating Floyd might be the safest pick among all the wide receivers in the 2012 draft class, and I believe that.
Floyd's abilities and potential are scheme-less. While Alshon Jeffery is a great deep threat, that talent is reliant upon a quarterback who can throw deep with good accuracy. Justin Blackmon is a solid all-around receiver, but what does he do that's exceptional?
Floyd doesn't jump off the film like Blackmon or Jeffery can in one play, but his consistent body of work is just as impressive—and in some cases more impressive—than the two wide receivers ranked ahead of him.