The next few weeks here on State of the Texans we will be doing some draft profiles of some particular players who could possibly fit into the Texans plans. We are not going to try to piece together scouting reports, but we enlist help of bloggers who actually cover the respective player and their school.
Once again we get the help of a fellow blogger, Eric Murtaugh, who covers the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at One Foot Down (SB Nation). I ask him about one of the top wide receivers in the draft, Michael Floyd. The senior Irish wide receiver had 100 receptions for 1,147 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2011. At 6’3″ 224 lbs. Floyd has put himself as one of the best wide receivers in Irish history ranking him along the likes of Tim Brown, Raghib Ismail and Derek Mayes. Floyd did not make a catch in only one collegiate game against Navy in 2008 when he was injured early in the game and holds the school record for 28 career touchdown receptions.
Can we have a little background on Floyd?
Michael Floyd just finished up his senior season at Notre Dame and holds nearly every major receiving record in school history. He’s a 6’3″ 225 pound product from St. Paul, Minnesota who worked his tail off to be able to attend Cretin-Durham Hall and became a 5-star recruit in the loaded 2008 class–featuring Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Jonathan Baldwin, among other receivers.
Floyd was the Minnesota Player of the Year for his final two seasons at Cretin-Durham, a USA Today All-American, and a member of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. A physically gifted receiver with great size, Floyd essentially started from day one at Notre Dame, breaking numerous freshman receiving records.
He battled injuries through his first two seasons in South Bend, and then had to make the adjustment from a pro-style offense under Charlie Weis to the spread attack currently being used by Brian Kelly at Notre Dame. Through it all, he ended up with 271 career receptions, 3,686 yards, and 37 touchdowns in roughly 41 games played.
What did he mean to ND and the football team?
Floyd meant a lot to the Irish football team, and specifically for the offense. If he wasn’t playing well (rarely) or wasn’t getting the ball in his hands (more likely), Notre Dame usually had a hard time moving the ball. There were times when he would simply take over games both with his pass catching skills and ability to score crucial touchdowns, but also with his tenacious blocking.
He was also a quiet yet confident leader on the team who let his play on the field do a lot of talking. Floyd ran into some trouble with the law early in 2011, was suspended for spring ball and lost his captaincy, but the way he came back and learned from his mistake made a lot of players and fans very proud.
What are his strengths and weaknesses.
Floyd’s strengths are his physicality, toughness, jump-ball ability, and his run-blocking. His athleticism is very good as well, but won’t jump out at you the way it will with guys like Andre Johnson and Calvin Johnson. He has really good hands and has refined his game over the past two seasons to the point where he is very prepared to make the leap into a NFL offense. Also, he is very hard to tackle as he consistently fights for extra yardage and seems to enjoy getting physical with corners (think Hines Ward). Ask any Notre Dame fan and they’ll tell you that his run-blocking is phenomenal. He really gets after it when blocking and this adds an underrated aspect to his game.
His weaknesses are that he doesn’t have (or isn’t perceived to have) elite speed. We’ll see how he does at the combine, but most don’t expect to be blown away by his 40-time. I’ve nicknamed him “The Thoroughbred” because he really resembles a race horse in his running style. He’s not lightning quick off the line or out of his breaks, but once he gets going he can pick up a head of steam and burn people deep–which he’s consistently done over his college career. Scouts will probably call him slow and question his ability to get open deep in the NFL using his speed, but I would definitely say that he is deceptively fast. Also, he’s a little stiff in the open field or with the ball in his hands. He’s not a big juker or someone who is going to make defenders miss with his athleticism and moves. He’s more content with taking the ball, getting up field as quickly as possible, and throwing stiff arms until usually 2 players drag him down or out-of-bounds.
Do his off the field issues hurt him or is he past them?
I definitely believe that Floyd is past his off-the-field issues (they were tremendously overblown in my opinion) and I wouldn’t expect any problems in the future. With that said, there’s no telling how it will affect his draft stock in the NFL. However, I think he is very far from a troubled kid or someone who will be a problem in the locker room or off the field. In truth he’s a very quiet and unassuming kid who made a mistake with his DUI. Since that mistake, he was given a list of life-changing moves to make from Notre Dame and Brian Kelly, and he apparently made them all. Hopefully teams see that he is a good kid at heart when they sit down with him in interviews.
How does he rank talent wise to the former Irish wideouts?
In terms of pure talent, being a physical specimen, and all-around ability, you could easily make the case that Floyd is the best receiver in Notre Dame history. He did have the advantage of playing in a very receiver friendly system for his first two seasons in South Bend, and had Jimmy Clausen throwing him the ball with Kyle Rudolph and Golden Tate taking attention from him. But he really cemented his status as a great receiver by refining his game (becoming a better route-runner, working on his blocking, etc.) and putting up with Notre Dame’s struggling quarterback situation since 2010. That he could put up back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons with pretty mediocre quarterback play over his final two seasons is pretty unbelievable.
Do you see him being successful at the NFL level and if so why?
Yes, I see Floyd being successful at the next level in the NFL. There are valid concerns over whether he can or will develop into a certified No. 1 receiver for a team, but I think he’ll at least be a very productive and extremely dangerous No. 2 receiver. In that sense, he would be a great second option for the Texans behind Andre Johnson–although I’m not sure if the Texans or other NFL teams are going to be willing to draft him in the first round to do so. Overall, his physicality, toughness, and run-blocking are going to pay dividends for him at the next level, while his playmaking ability, good hands, and penchant for making the big touchdown are going to help him have a very long career.
Special Thanks goes out to Eric and you can follow him on Twitter @EMurtaughOFD or visit him at One Foot Down.