Sharrif Floyd, the 23d pick, wants to 'prove people wrong'

Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, a former George Washington High star, was selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the 23d draft pick.
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, a former George Washington High star, was selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the 23d draft pick. (ELIZABETH FLORES / Star Tribune)
Posted: April 27, 2013

NEW YORK - Earlier this year, in the days leading up to the NFL combine, Sharrif Floyd sat down and talked about his preparations for the draft. In a conversation that lasted close to an hour in Bradenton, Fla., the George Washington High graduate didn't give the slightest inkling that he thought he would be a top-five pick.

He certainly never suggested that he thought it was his birthright.

It seemed then that the first round was the goal and the anticipation. Floyd sounded as if he'd be fine even if he would eventually get drafted 23d - as it played out Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall when the Minnesota Vikings called Floyd's name.

It's just interesting how that came to be seen as a disappointment.

A third-team all-American last season at Florida, Floyd was asked in Bradenton about one scouting report, a thorough one on SBNation.com, that suggested he still had work to do on his technique, that he often struggled to get leverage, and needed to work on maintaining a proper pad level.

This didn't get under Floyd's skin. He was preparing to talk with NFL teams about any subject.

"I agree with [the] statement, technique-wise," Floyd said that day at the IMG Academy. "I'm young. I've been doing this for a while but I haven't been fortunate enough to play my position that I wish to play every year."

Floyd added, "I felt as though from the past year to this year, I've been taking a lot of strides in my pad level, a lot of strides in my technique. . . . I agree with 50 percent of what he's saying, and that's coming from a guy who never talked to me. That's kind of impressive."

Floyd was not considered a "top-five" pick until just around that time, just before the combine, when the NFL Network's Mike Mayock anointed him one. Mayock's track record is so strong that his influence is tremendous, even among his top competitors. From then on, there was barely a mock draft without Floyd in the top five.

(When the mock drafts began coming out, I'd felt like a dope not acknowledging that Floyd was a top-five kind of guy. Then again, I personally could no more differentiate between a top of the first-round defensive tackle and an end of the first-rounder than I could design a missile-defense system.)

That's not to say Mayock was wrong - he's smart enough, maybe he could design a missile-defense system - only that his well-earned stamp of approval seemed to take away any debate about where Floyd would land. Floyd himself had to believe it, to a certain extent, even though he said that playing defensive tackle in a 4-3 system suits him best. There were a limited number of teams looking for such a player in the first round.

Floyd was saved from being the top ESPN poster child of dropping in the draft by the presence of Geno Smith. Quarterbacks always make for the sexier story, even though plenty of people thought Smith was a second-round kind of QB.

Floyd had a great combine, winning over Warren Sapp and others. There was good feedback from interviews. But he ended up being the third defensive tackle taken. At least one of the others was better suited for DT in a 3-4. Still, this was known going in to be a draft in which there was no sure thing. By definition, that included Floyd.

Most mock drafts had Floyd going third to the Raiders. The Raiders clearly weren't thinking that way since they traded down to the 12th pick and still didn't take Floyd.

Now Floyd gets to be known as a steal of the draft. However, he will make a lot less money as the 23d pick than he would have at third. According to overthecap.com, his signing bonus is projected to be $4.25 million instead of $13.3 million. The total value of the four-year deal is estimated to be just over $8 million, instead of more than $20 million.

After being selected, Floyd talked about how "I'm nowhere near upset, I'm nowhere near angry," although he also mentioned something about being "ready to work and prove people wrong."

Floyd also plans to buy his great-grandmother a house. He reported that she was crying Thursday night when he was selected. Safe to say she knew right away what being a first-round NFL draft choice meant, that his life had changed in an instant.

She apparently hadn't done a mock draft to parse it out any further than that.


Contact Mike Jensen at mjensen@phillynews.com. Follow @jensenoffcampus on Twitter.

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