Originally written on Buffalo Wins  |  Last updated 11/18/14

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 28: Michael Floyd #3 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is congratulated by Mike Ragone #83 after Floyd scored a touchdown against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

With Thursday’s draft fast approaching, it’s time for the fourth and final installment of this year’s Draftwatch series. Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked about some of the most popular players being mocked to Buffalo in the media, blogosphere, and fan discussions. In addition to Dre Kirkpatrick, Luke Kuechly, and Riley Reiff, the biggest and most common player projection amongst these groups is Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd. Take a look as we wrap this series up with one of the hottest names on NFL draft boards this spring.

 

Photo credit to Gregory Shamus / Getty

WHO HE IS

 

Floyd, the 6’3” wideout from St. Paul, Minnesota, has been a highly decorated and desired player since youth. As a teenager, he was sought after by coaches at Cretin-Derham Hall High, one of the top prep schools in his home state and ended up netting himself a partial scholarship to attend the school. He couldn’t afford the remainder of tuition, so he worked his way through his early years by helping the custodial staff to clean and maintain the school every day – already showing his drive and determination for the sport.  Floyd further showed his worth, producing on the field and earning himself Minnesota Player of the Year honors in his junior and senior years as well as being named an All-American and a Five-Star college recruit during his final season. In 2008, Floyd was chased by numerous top-level schools before finally accepting a scholarship to play for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He played immediately, amassing 719 yards and seven scores as a true freshman in only eleven games played – continuing on to catch balls for over 3,600 yards and 37 touchdowns in his four-year career. Because of his history of accolades, statistics, and ideal size it’s no surprise that he’s once again a highly touted recruit – figuring to be picked in the top half of the first round in Thursday’s draft. Stats don’t tell the whole story, though. Looking further at Floyd’s game will show that he is an incredibly well-rounded target for his quarterback. Michael is known for his aggressive and physical play which allows him to routinely produce against the best of the best. He’s an advanced route runner who utilizes the entire ‘route tree’ and is far from a one-trick pony. Along the sidelines he has the composure and physicality to out-match whomever is covering him while staying in bounds, and across the middle he has the speed to beat linebackers along with the ability to shake off tacklers while gaining yards after the catch. Floyd will be any coach’s dream early on as (even if he’s outmatched by NFL defensive backs, which doesn’t seem incredibly likely) he’s an enthusiastic and effective contributor in the run game. When executing off-tackle or screen plays he’s got a strong punch and a knack for sustaining his blocks which allows the tailback the opportunity to find his lanes and get the ball downfield. Unlike most receivers, he seeks out contact and rather than simply mirroring his defender, Michael will often crack linebackers at the line of scrimmage to take them out of a play.

Photo credit to Jonathan Daniel / Getty

WHY BUFFALO SHOULD TAKE HIM

In 2011, Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had such an inconsistent group of receivers to utilize that he was never able to find a groove with any of those rotating in and out of the lineup. With Steve Johnson as the main target and David Nelson working the slot, there were numerous no-name and little talent players attempting to be the other top man on the outside. None was able to step up and play with any level of consistency throughout the year, so that role still holds a great amount of confusion for the team. Floyd, ideally, would be able to fit right into that role from day one and provide the compliment for Steve Johnson that this offense so desperately needs. Even if there was a bit of a transition, he’s had experience working at every receiver position and in every duty asked of them, so he’d be an immediate contributor wherever they found a place for him. Floyd, like Nelson and Johnson, has incredible range which allows him to adjust for any off-target throws headed his way, something that would be a regular occurrence with Fitzpatrick as his quarterback. Michael would add another red-zone target to the repertoire for Fitzpatrick, and while running formations containing him, Nelson, and tight end Scott Chandler, defenses would have a hard time picking their poison. Being a four-year starter has given him plenty of game experience, which is a trait that Buddy Nix is a sucker for, and that experience shows while he is on the field. Floyd is a very mature and polished player who doesn’t shy away from double-teams and highly skilled defenders like many at his stage do. He has the skills of both a possession receiver and your prototypical deep threat, which always keeps defenses guessing, and his release off of the snap is remarkable for his size. Michael’s willingness and effectiveness as a blocker would not go unnoticed in Chan Gailey’s run-heavy offense, either – something that would surely benefit the tandem of Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller as they look to cut outside.

 

Photo credit to Al Messerschmidt / Getty

FINAL WORD

While Floyd has proven to be a reliable deep threat, he doesn’t have the game-breaking speed that is typically desired in that role. He runs with long strides, has an impressive wingspan, and possesses phenomenal jumping ability, which allows him to track the ball and pick it out of the air when timed correctly on deep routes. As a senior, his consistency and effort were called into question when double-teamed; though he still caught a school-record 100 balls for over 1,100 yards and nine scores. Floyd runs solid routes, but has a tendency to freelance and needs to get used to finishing his routes if he’s inserted to any sort of a timing offense. Many have taken his character into question with three alcohol related incidents throughout his career with the Irish, the final one (a citation for drunk driving) earning him a suspension and stripping of his role as team captain. The suspension reportedly straightened the young athlete out and he has cleaned up his act while keeping his nose clean ever since. All in all, Michael Floyd would be a home run of a selection for this Bills team. His positives greatly outweigh the few negatives, and his durability as well as experience should help him to assimilate into the league in no time. There is no question that Floyd would be of major interest to Buffalo when they pick in the tenth slot in a couple of nights, and depending on how the chips fall before him I’d be willing to wager that he has a very high chance at being their choice.

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