Will Michael Floyd win the No. 2 receiver spot?
Andre Roberts’ lack of production.
That’s not the only reason why, but it is a large factor. Roberts is not a threat to burn any corner deep unless said corner falls down in coverage.
He is not strong enough to fight off defenders to generate any separation when running routes. In turn, he is almost always tackled on first contact; there are minimal yards after the catch.
In 2011, Roberts averaged just 4.51 yards after the catch. Comparatively, Early Doucet averaged 6.41 yards after the catch (which led the team), while Larry Fitzgerald averaged 6.16 yards after the catch.
For his two-year career, Roberts has averaged just 4.61 yards after the catch. That is simply not good enough.
Floyd, on the other hand, is a big, physical receiver who will command the attention of any defense’s No. 2 cornerback. He uses his big frame perfectly in boxing out defenders when catching passes over the middle (something else Roberts doesn’t do well).
He does more than shield defenders while catching the ball, though. Floyd also does it during running plays.
The 6’3”, 220-pound Floyd is considered one of the best run-blocking receivers of his draft class—if not the best. Scouts Inc. had this to say of Floyd’s blocking ability:
Effort as a blocker improved as a senior. Technique can improve but [he] is willing and has size to smother defenders. Also flashes mean streak and ability to sustain on long runs. Really impressed with improvement in this area.
[Watch this video highlighting his blocking ability.]
Arizona frequently runs the ball outside the tackle box, and having Floyd on the edge taking a corner or safety out of the play means Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams can cut to the outside and know they have protection.
And don’t take that lightly. Cornerbacks routinely tackle at or below the knees, and both running backs are recovering from knee surgery. That kind of protection could mean a lot more confidence for the young backs, knowing that more often than not, their knees are protected on both sides of the field (Fitzgerald is also a great blocker).
Another reason is Floyd’s body control.
Notre Dame’s quarterback play has been less than impressive since Jimmy Clausen left for the NFL following Floyd’s sophomore season. Most catches made by Floyd after Clausen’s departure were of the acrobatic variety.
Twisting. Contorting. Reaching. Diving. [Watch this ESPN’s Sport Science on Floyd’s abilities.]
He did it all just to make the catch, and that will help him see the field Week 1 as the No. 2 receiver.
Floyd, like fellow rookie Bobby Massie, won’t enter training camp in July as a starter; however, also like Massie, he will prove from that time until the end of the preseason that he deserves one of the 11 starting spots in the offense.
This will be a different approach for coach Ken Whisenhunt, as rookies typically don’t see playing time early. He has no other choice, really.
The poor play from Roberts combined with the massive upside Floyd possesses will be enough to see this happen.