Rookie Michael Floyd will start at wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals.
Arizona Cardinals rookie wide receiver Michael Floyd will win the starting job over three-year veteran Andre Roberts by the time the 2012 regular season gets underway, and there are a handful of reasons to support that claim.
Floyd, though, does not have to do much to prove he is better than Roberts is.
Roberts’ lack of production on the outside and Floyd’s superior athleticism are just two of those reasons; read on to find out what else gives the edge to the rookie No. 13 overall pick.
YAC (Yards After the Catch) is often an indicator of a wide receiver’s strength and ability to shake tackles, along with his ability to separate from defenders.
Andre Roberts finished 51st among wide receivers with 4.51 yards after the catch last season, and during his two-year career has averaged just 4.61 yards after the catch.
He has produced only two 100-yard performances over that span—both of which came against the Dallas Cowboys.
His inability to create consistent separation against No. 2 cornerbacks is reason for concern. Roberts can take a big hit and get right back up. But he is not strong enough to bounce off a crushing blow and keep going.
The rookie, however, is.
While Michael Floyd has yet to tighten up the chinstrap on a meaningful Sunday afternoon, the rookie is already more adept than Roberts at creating separation and gaining YAC. His college highlight reel is full of broken tackles and long touchdown catches.
Deep passes were routinely hauled in regardless of how misplaced they were. That is something to which Fitzgerald can relate—something that makes starting Floyd a must.
His ability to turn a poorly thrown ball into a big gain cannot be learned. It is an instinct and takes an athleticism that a receiver either has or does not have.
NFL Films analyst and senior producer Greg Cosell wrote a brilliant blog entry comparing Floyd with fellow first-round draft pick Justin Blackmon. His thoughts on Floyd stand out and could be great news for the Cardinals:
Floyd showed a burst with the ball in the air. It was noticeable on vertical routes, and that’s important as he transitions to the NFL. I’ve said this before, and I believe it to be a fair comparison: Floyd reminds me of Dwayne Bowe. They are almost identical in size and skill set.
Oh boy. Arizona could be in for a pleasant surprise.
Coinciding with his big-play ability, Floyd’s athleticism will make life easier for whoever is Arizona’s starting quarterback.
He is a virtual clone of Fitzgerald, standing 6’3” and weighing 220 pounds. He’s a bit faster than No. 11 as well.
He’s a big, physical presence on the field who shields defenders from the football while it’s in the air. On crossing routes and slants he has the ability to make the tough catch and absorb contact—more often than not leading to broken tackles.
Floyd runs with the ball much like Fitz does—hard, always at full-speed, and at times he will initiate contact with a defender.
Arizona needs to be as athletic as possible at all skill positions, and Floyd is a better athlete than Roberts is.
That’s not to say Roberts is not a good athlete. He is, but his skill set is a better fit for the slot. Small, quick and tough are all good traits for a slot receiver to possess. The talent that most teams have to play the nickel corner position—that is, those who cover slot receivers—is such that Arizona would have a better matchup with Roberts lining up across from them.
The video to the left, though it shows his blocking ability, is not a good indication as to where Michael Floyd stands as a run-blocker.
It doesn’t include his senior season, when he improved enough to cause scouts to take notice.
He is a physically punishing blocker, one who can drive outmatched cornerbacks off the field completely.
Scouts Inc. had this to say of Floyd’s run-blocking abilities:
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.
He was plenty good through his junior year. Now, he’s just a beast.
Floyd could be the best run-blocking wide receiver from the most recent draft class, and because Arizona possesses two running backs who have the potential to dominate if healthy, his services on the outside are a necessity.