Time to comb all these mock drafts and pass on their information as my own. OK. Not really. If we believe the mock drafts, we already know what possible targets the Bills are going after with their first pick, which leads me to doing this Q&A with Notre Dame writer Eric Murtaugh (RIGGS!! I’m to old for this sh#$. Sorry, I’m a huge Lethal Weapon fan.) from One Foot Down (SB Nation’s ND site) about Michael Floyd. Of course, I needed more information on Floyd, so I also reached out to the boys over at Subway Domer (Notre Dame site for Bloguin) to answer some more questions. First up…Mr. Murtaugh. Enjoy!
1) What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Floyd has a lot of strengths including great size, elite length and jumping ability, as well as good hands and top-notch physicality. As far as weaknesses, speed was thought to be an issue, but most Notre Dame fans knew he’d put those questions to rest at the NFL Combine. He might not have elite speed at the next level, but at 6’3″ and 225 pounds, running a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash is very impressive. I’ve never really thought he was very elusive in the open field, meaning he’s not the type of player to juke someone out of his cleats. He’s more of a get the ball, be physical, and get up field as quickly as possible type of player.
2) The Bills really needed a deep threat last year, is Floyd the answer?
Floyd most definitely can be a deep threat for the Bills. One of his greatest assets is getting down field and making a play on the ball. Now, this aspect of Floyd’s game was hampered in his final two years at Notre Dame because of quarterback issues, and he would likely have some of the same problems in Buffalo with Fitzpatrick, but it’s still a big part of his game. I have no doubt that he will open up whatever offense he goes to in the draft.
3) Chan Gailey really wants his WRs to run precise, short routes. Can Floyd do that?
Yes, I believe so. In reality, Floyd’s final two seasons at Notre Dame under Brian Kelly saw him run an offense very similar to what the Bills are doing: Tons of short passes, slants, quick outs and plays of that nature. When Kelly took over in South Bend over two years ago he made a point to criticize Floyd for his lack of polish on his game, and since then Floyd has really made an effort to improve his route-running, physicality off the line, and leadership. He’s not seen as the jump-ball phenom he was during his first two seasons at Notre Dame, but he’s undoubtedly a much better all-around receiver right now.
4) Can he start from day 1 as the #2 option?
I’ve felt that Floyd’s basement as a talent is likely a No. 2 receiver in the NFL and I would say he would start at that spot immediately on 25+ teams around the league. I know the Bills are high on some of their young receivers, but I would expect Floyd to come right in and be the second option in that offense behind Stevie Johnson.
5) Would he be a reach at 10?
My gut reaction has always been yes, Floyd would be a reach at No. 10 overall. This time last year he was a fringe first round pick and most sensible heads had him going in the second round. He did have another really great season in South Bend and he tore up his offseason work outs, but going that high doesn’t seem as likely as maybe in the 15 to 25 area. With that said, with the NFL being such a passing league nowadays, it wouldn’t shock me if he’s taken that high, especially as he is considered the second-best receiver in the draft and he offers an enticing combination of size, speed, and playmaking ability. In the end, I think the Bills are zeroing in on a left tackle and I would be somewhat shocked if they took Floyd.
6) Where do you see Floyd in 4 yrs?
In four years I think Floyd will be pushing to be a No. 1 receiver on his NFL team or at the very least, considered one of the best No. 2 receivers in the league. It will all depend on which team he goes to of course, but I think he’ll have a very successful NFL career.
7) Describe the best game he’s ever played while at ND.
Very good question. There are a lot of games during his first two seasons where he was a touchdown machine and fade route extraordinaire—putting up a lot of 5 or 6 catch games but with 100 yards and a couple scores. Probably his brightest moment back then was in the 2009 opener against Nevada where he only caught 4 balls but racked up 189 yards on three long touchdowns. However, Nevada’s defense was abysmal that year and Floyd spent most of the second half on the bench during the blowout so it’s hard to say that was his best game. I’d also consider the 2010 Sun Bowl versus Miami as another big game because there was a lot of talk before the game that Floyd wouldn’t be able to get open against the super fast Hurricane secondary. In that one he put up just six catches but jammed two dagger touchdowns in Miami in the first half with 2 long touchdowns while finishing with 109 yards. It might not be his best statistical game ever, but I think the season finale in 2010 against USC was Floyd’s best game in the blue and gold. In fact, when I interviewed him early this year he said that this was his favorite game from his Irish career too. Floyd only finished with 86 yards, but he scored a huge touchdown in the close game and his 11 receptions felt a lot more like 20. In fact, in that game the Irish were turning the ball over left and right, couldn’t run the ball for most of the game, and Floyd was literally the only offensive weapon that was doing anything. I’d imagine that 7 or 8 of his receptions in this game were for 1st down. It was just one of those games where he proved that without the deep ball and without simply out jumping people for balls, he could be a surgeon out there and make plays on a lot of short routes.
1) What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Michael Floyd’s biggest strength is his strength. Floyd ran a sub 4.5 40 at the combine. When you combine that kind of speed (which a lot of people were doubting- mainly because he has a funny running style) and the sheer physicality of his play; you can’t lose. Not only does Floyd have the hops to go up for the ball at the highest point, his strength has defenders bouncing off of him. He doesn’t get jammed at the line too easy either. (He is also one of the best run blocking WR’s that I have ever seen in college.)
His biggest weakness… That’s trickier. I am in no way questioning his heart, but rarely did you see Floyd lay out for a ball. Instead, you’d see him putting an arm up looking for a flag. It didn’t happen often, but I can’t remember a catch he had with his body horizontal in the air. He is going to have to in the NFL.
2) Can he start from day 1?
Absolutely. The farther a player is from the ball, the better chance he has of playing early. Floyd is a special talent and has all of the tools needed to be a starter in the NFL. Plus, whoever picks him is looking for an instant impact player and he will get every chance to do so.
3) I noticed that during his sophomore year, Floyd averaged about 18 yards a catch but that number dropped to 11 yards last year, why was that?
Jimmy Clausen. Floyd had Clausen throwing to him in his first two years, and Jimmy throws the deep ball as well and as accurately as anyone. In Floyd’s final two years he had a combo of Rees and Crist- neither can be confused as an equal to Jimmy. Mike was also asked to do more intermediate routes within the spread system of Brian Kelly in these last two years as well.
4) I know the Irish haven’t exactly produced top tier offensive talent over the last decade or so, should that be a concern for a team drafting Floyd high?
Uh, no. That’s kind of an odd question. Is anyone concerned about Andrew Luck and the lack of top tier offensive talent that has come out of Stanford in a decade plus? No. Players are players, and they come from all over the country.
5) How does he play against bump/run coverage? Can he get separation?
As I stated previously, Floyd has tremendous strength and good footwork. I don’t see him having too much difficulty getting off the line, and he uses his body very well to help create space.
6) How good of a target is he in the red zone?
Because of his strength and size, Floyd is an obvious choice to be a “go to” guy in the redzone. He has great hands, and he adjusts well to the ball in the air on fade routes. Notre Dame mostly used him on the edge in the redzone, but the times he was used crossing the middle or on quick slants were very successful. Floyd is a member of one of the best WR recruiting classes I have ever seen. Guys like Julio Jones, AJ Green, Justin Blackmon, DeVier Posey, DeAndre Brown and others were all in the 2008 incoming class. This is an elite talent at a position that sees a lot of busts in the NFL, but he has more tools at his disposal than others. Whoever gets him should be doing fist pumps by week 4. Go Pack Go!